Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Archive for September, 2011

Our Cape York Trip – Part 4

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 29, 2011

Canal Ck water crossing

Canal Ck water no2

Canal Ck exit track

Hi Everyone,
We brekkied and finished packing up and then decided on a swim to wash off all the sweat and cool down a bit – the temp is averaging about 28 degrees during the day atm which is very nice! Our neighbors are also heading up the track too so we said we’ll catch up along the way.  We got to the first creek crossing, Canal Creek and met up with the Winging It Crew already. We got out to walk the creek and wait for others ahead of us to cross first. We saw some postie bikes here – Joel had been told there

Sam's Ck entry

Postie Bikes at Canal Ck

Sam's Ck water crossing

was a group of guys riding postie bikes up the OTL – gutsy move I reckon! They had a support vehicle for backup but they still had a lot of gear on their bikes as well! madness!! The approach to Canal Creek wasn’t too bad and we crossed okay through the crystal clear water. The track up on the other side though took a bit more consideration! By this time we were at the back of the Winging It Crew, like a tag-a-long.  We all stopped after the water and walked up the steep exit track. It had lots of washouts and boggy bits, some a bit like quick sand. Wade stepped out of the car in his thongs and straight into a bog hole and nearly lost his thongs – we dug into it and found it only ‘cos it wasn’t that deep:). Everyone

Kristina you ROCK!

managed to maneuver onto the track and with everyone on the same radio channel, listening and spotting for each other, we all made it up, safe-and-sound! Paul and Andy both had camper trailers and they did an excellent job of getting their rigs up the track! As a vehicle would come through, they’d park up and come back to help and watch the next vehicle drive through. It was quite an adrenaline rush and you’re genuinely excited when the others

Mistake Ck entry

Sand carving with the bullbar

make it through too, unscathed! A car shuffle saw us at the next crossing first up, which was Sam’s Creek. We pulled up, got out, checked out the water which wasn’t too deep but looked like you could get into some bother on some rocks on entry though.  Luckily we made it down, Joel took the right line and easy-peasy with Paul spotting for him upfront.  It’s so much easier with someone directing out the front as you lose sight of the rocks and entry sometimes when your dash is up pointing to the sky so you tend to rely on the UHF radio, hand signals and yelling:)) Me, I was across the water taking a million shots for Joel to look at later – I know he’s loving every minute of it! The kids alternated between the car and videoing – they were

Mistake ck water crossing

Cannibal Ck 90 degree bend

Cannibal Ck exit track

doing an excellent job too! We all made it through safe-and-sound and Kristina even drove their vehicle through this crossing – Woohoo, you go girl!
2kms up the track was Mistake Creek, very aptly named as we took the right-hand track which led to a round-a-bout, so we backtracked and took the left-hand track down to the crossing. We all got out and had a look and the even though the  water wasn’t too deep, the entry was steep and tight for us, with Joel carving out some of the sandy-sided corner with the edge if his bull-bar! Nice and steady

Bridge stability check

One wrong move........

Crossing Cypress Ck log bridge

and everyone made it through a-ok! By this stage our group of 5 vehicles has grown to 7, including the German family (Dirk, Sigrid and their 4 kids) we had met a couple of nights ago and a couple of young fellas (plumbers) in dual-cab who  happened to get stuck in-amongst us! We offered to let them go ahead but they said they were enjoying their “grid position” and our company too! I must admit it was a lot more fun doing the crossings with all these people.
Less than 2kms along the track we came upon

Joel and Paul checking for crocs:)

Bra fitted and ready to go

Logan's Ck start

Cannibal Creek – not sure about some of these names! We all got out again and trekked through the water, checking the bottom and the exit strategy. The kids jumped in for a swim while the adults were contemplating how to address this crossing. The entry was washed out a little and there were a couple of deeper sections in the water but you needed to do a 90 degree right-hand-turn in the water and then the exit track was full of washouts as well.  Joel decided to keep to the left so he could avoid the deep hole in the creek but still need to

Logan's Ck and we're underwater

Andrew and Kristina win best angle shot

leave enough room so he could still turn sharply as

Andy's tarp is rising up

our turning circle is less than it used to be due to the extension! Once again Joel did a brilliant getting through the water and navigating the washout exit too! I managed to get some rippa shots of everyone exiting, especially the plumbers who got one of their front wheels airborne coming out of the exit track! All the vehicles made it through with ease and it was onto the next one about another 2kms along. Cypress Creek is an old log bridge over a steep-sided creek.  On first look it seems a bit dodgy and we all wonder aloud which vehicle will be the one to stress it out and collapse it – ha ha ! We all

Paul's getting a wash too

Plumbers leaking out side of bonnet

Dirk looking very casual

got out for a closer inspection and Daniel and Wade jumped on the logs to see if any would dislodge. Luckily none did, so Joel decided on a line of attack and away he went, with Paul on the other side helping to line him up on the right logs. We’re probably the heaviest vehicle and we didn’t snap it and so all the others came over just as easily, making sure there was always someone to guide them onto the right logs! The campers looked a bit more tricky as there are more wheels to keep on the right track but Paul and Andy did a great job again

Everybody walked Nolan's Brook

Off to a wet start

Staying hard left as per plan

getting over safely! Another 7.7kms along brought us to Logan Creek which was by far the longest and deepest water crossing so far! Joel and Paul stripped of to their jocks and boardies (yes Joel was in his jocks and Paul in his boardies) and braved the water, finding a few deep, muddy, slippery spots along the way.  They decided on a left-hand-side course of action after much discussion! The water was waist-high in some spots and higher when they found the muddy, slippery patches:). There was no question, everyone was tarping up for this one! You

Swim god damn it!

Almost there....

All smiles now!

could feel the apprehension but it was overridden by the adrenaline and testosterone I’m pretty sure! Andy even borrowed the gaffer tape (duct tape) and taped up all his doors and seals just to be sure.  It was like watching the “Dukes of Hazard” as he got in and out of the car, through the window! Hee hee! I decided that if Joel and Paul had gone through the water they would’ve scared al the crocs away so I waded through in my bathers and top, holding the camera up high and praying there were no snappy snappies in the reeds on the sides waiting for me!

Spectator sport

RIP prado

Whew, made it through, no probs. All the vehicles were tarped up and just-in-case we put all the chargers and anything electrical or that didn’t like getting wet, into the plastic containers in the canopy and on the top shelf.  Joel was the guinea pig and took off in low 2nd gear and entered okay. He kept to his line and I watched in slight horror as the water came up and over the bonnet and up to the windscreen! He kept it going, nice and steady and made it out okay. It’s a peculiar feeling to see your car more than half-way under murky water! Daniel videoed from inside the car and you can hear the oohs and aahs as they made it through. Joel had the car ready with a snatch strap on the back, just in case any of the cars go into difficulty but every one of the other vehicles came through.  You could see the looks of concentration on the driver’s faces then absolute delight and lots of “you beauties” as they made it safely across. Everyone being tarped up helped tremendously, although Paul’s tarp dropped a bit coming out and Andrew’s did too, especially as he was slightly

Great finish everyone

Jardine ferry

more to the right and consequently deeper, on an angle, in the water! He looked particularly spekky in the crossing too on that sort of angel! All the vehicles have a snorkel and a lift so all were okay. Wow – what a feeling – only then did we realize that it was Logan’s Creek and Nolan’s Brook was still yet to come! Nolan’s is considered the tester of all the creek crossings, water wise anyway. While we were all “de-tarping” on the other side, a few dirt bikes joined us and then proceeded to cross the water on the opposite side to us, following the reeds and going through the mud to exit at a different spot to us. Unfortunately the mud was too thick and the exit just too steep and none of the bikes made it up.  They all stopped and helped each-other to lift the bikes up and out of the wet mud. Once we were all “de-tarped” we headed up the track another 5.5kms to the famous Nolan’s Brook! We all got out and this is the only crossing that everyone walked beforehand!  The kids had a swim while the rest decided which was the best line of attack for this crossing. There were quite a few

Packed on like sardines

onlookers, some were camped here and some had gone through and were just watching the rest of us. Just prior to us getting here, a Prado and camper trailer had gotten stuck and “drowned” in this crossing! Like an hour or so before! We had always said that we’d come and have a look at it but if we had any reservations at all or it just looked too hairy then we’d give it a miss. There are just too many dollars invested in this car to just drown it for fun trying to cross a creek! Also that would effectively cut our trip very short too – and we didn’t want that! It didn’t look too bad, but there were definitely some deeper, softer areas in the water that we want to stay clear of. The entry and exits weren’t too bad either, sandy and not too rocky and not too washed out either. After much discussion we all decided to give it a go! The plumbers went first, lit up their ciggies, away they went, making it look easy, although the tray on the rear rose up and looked like it might float them off course. It didn’t and they were super stoked to be through. Paul went next with his camper trailer and did it with a big fist pump as they exited too! Woo hoo! Andy (alias Dukes of Hazard) went next – everyone was pretty pumped but a bit uncertain at the same time! He made it into the water easy enough and had another big cheesy on the way out too! Next was Joel, who had left his window down to hear the rush of water, but I don’t think he expected it to come in through his window though! Easy entry with the water well up  over the bonnet, splashing half-way up the windscreen and lapping at the door window! Yahoo,

Kids making a swing at Loyalty

another safely through with a big “Yeah!” Andrew and Kristina did a fab job as well.  Andy and Karen used Joel’s car-bra as their tarp had dropped coming through the last crossing, and they got the camper through easily too! The Germans were last and old Dirk is one cool cucumber; he looked so casual going through, nice and steady on the pedal and safely out the other side.
We all stopped on the other side for a while, reliving the crossings and having a good chat. The Prado that had “sunk” was parked up in the camping area, all un-packed and drying off.  The water was apparently up to the head rests in the car and it’s only less than 12 months old! -poor guy, people were asking him heaps of questions and taking photos (us included:)), but in the end it was his choice of where and how to cross that cost him quite dearly! He has become one of the statistics of Nolan’s Brook and we walked away, silently thankful that it was none of us! We did get a little water in on the passenger floor side but we mopped it up with a chux and will dry out the mat at the next camp. After a beer to toast, we all headed up the track towards the Jardine River, back tracked to the turnoff (as there aren’t sign posts anyway, you rely heavily on your GPS and maps!) and drove to the by-pass road.  We pulled over at the intersection for a very late lunch as we’re all starving!! At lunch there was much discussion about vehicles, gear, the crossings, other vehicles, etc – you get the drift! The mood was ebullient and happy! We lined up all the vehicles

Blurry group photo

for a photo-op! What a great trek up the OTL with some amazing people! We agreed it would have been nowhere near as much fun on our own!

One of the many sunsets at Loyalty

We drove the next 24kms on corrugated gravel up to the Jardine River Roadhouse and Derry Crossing.  We all stopped to empty out our rubbish into the bins provided and get our ferry tickets, which cost us $88 for a 6 sec crossing! Oh and a few souvenirs too. We watched the barge ferry across a couple of vehicles and a 4×4 bus too! When we lined up we were the 4th vehicle so we thought we’d be in the next trip but no, the operator called us forward, right up the front next to Andy. Then he somehow managed to squeeze on another 2 vehicles and Paul and his camper as well. I’m sure Paul’s camper was hanging on the back ramp as we went across! The ferry is basically a barge/large pontoon with sides with an engine, attached to either side of the river banks by thick, wire-rope cables, that work with a pulley system to pull the barge across and the river and back again! It took us a whole 6 secs to cross! Still I wouldn’t want to have to walk this river and test the submarine capabilities of our car or even think about how many crocs are in here!!  35kms later we hit bitumen just before entering Injinoo, an Aboriginal Community.  We had bitumen all the way into Bamaga and out towards Seisia, till we turned off to go to The Loyalty Beach Campground. What a beautiful camping ground, right along the beach. We asked about some powered sites and found there were several still available. They showed us an area where we could all camp together and we asked if they minded if we crash with them – the more the merrier they said! We found a spot right down on the beach with heaps of shade and enough room for all of us to share the power.  We set up camp and headed down to the “restaurant” for dinner as it is Sunday night and it’s fish-and-chip night! They have a bar and they kindly set up a table for all 17 of us – what a fantastic end to a brilliant day! We looked back through photos and videos of the crossings and each of the vehicles with loads of comments and laughter! The kids made a swing in one of the trees on the shore while we all ate dinner. It’s great to see them all happy too! We watched the sun set over the ocean and toasted to a successful OTL trek and making new friends. We heard some interred sting stories from some of the staff and had a great many drinks and laughs. Back to camp for hot showers and some sleep. An exhausting but exhilarating day! Whoo hoo!
Till Next time


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Our Cape York Trip – Part 3

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 29, 2011

Fruit Bat Falls Pana

Eliot Falls Camp

Eliot Falls

Boys and Eliot Falls

Hi Everyone,
We made it to the Eliot Falls Campground about 1pm, found a great, huge site, pulled in and thought lunch was a splendid idea! We set up the tent and tarp for shade and cover then raced downtown check out the falls. The are two different falls here and a swimming area too, which are easily accessed via a gravel track and some board walks.  We went to the Eliot Falls first (It used to be called Indian Head Falls), walked down a bit from the falls and climbed down to the water. We climbed in and swam up the river to the falls, where the kids found a spot to climb up the falls to the top so they could jump off. It was heaven! We spent a few hours

Eliot Falls another view

Downstream of Eliot Falls

here and the falls are just gorgeous. At the top of the falls it is quite shallow with a few deep, sandy-bottomed holes. They were good to sit in, like small pools! We headed back to camp, started the fire and the kids got into their diaries while we got dinner ready.

Upper Twin Falls

Unfortunately we found the gas bottle has been leaking through a loose connection at the stove so where possible, we’ll make a fire and cook on it! Hopefully, we can get gas at Bamaga or Seisia.  Quiet night around the fire, I think we’re missing the antics and fun from the last few nights with the SA mob!
Bit of rain overnight but still managed a small fire to boil the billy and heat up some milk for brekky. We decided to head off down

Dan jumping off Eliot Falls

Wade jumping off Eliot Falls

the track back to Fruit Bat Falls, only about 9kms away. We travelled back through Scrubby Ck and onto the falls. OMG- they are breathtakingly beautiful falls! There’s no camping at Fruit Bat Falls but there was a bus in there at 10:30. Then they left and we had the place to ourselves for about one and half hours. It was magic! The falls are shaped like open bat wings and there are lots of pools and sandy areas to swim. We all climbed up the falls and jumped off into the water, cooling off and enjoying ourselves. We

Upper and lower Twin Falls

kicked back with our books for a while and I took about a million photos, trying different settings! I found heaps more of the pitcher plants and I’ve seen the beautiful Ulysses blue butterfly again,

Twin Falls

Boys at Twin Falls

twice! -but it never stops still so it’s bloody hard to photograph – but I’ll keep trying! We stopped for lunch here at the picnic tables near the car park and met some other people traveling the cape as well.  (Turns put we would meet them further down the track too.). We collected more firewood on our way back to camp. Daniel is getting very good with an axe now and still has all his toes too! Wade wants to have a go so badly (he suffers from big brother envy a bit) but we’d really like him to keep his toes all intact, so maybe when he’s grown a bit bigger-maybe! Joel made a chilli con carne again and I made up some bread mix. We tag-teamed the kids while the fire was going as we didn’t want to leave it

Boys at Fruit Bat Falls

Fruit Bat Falls again

Side view of Fruit Bat Falls

unattended! While Joel cooked and my bread was proving, I swam with the kids at the falls, then I headed back to finish my bread and Joel came down to swim with the kids. Unfortunately the handle on my big saucepan broke off while I was trying to lift the rice off the fire. It didn’t burn me  but a good deal of the water dampened my coals but luckily we still had enough to cook my bread so all good in the end! The fire cooking has definitely taken its toll on my saucepans so it looks like I get a full, new set when we finally move back into a real house eventually! We’ve got some new neighbors tonight who have invited us over for drinks as it’s a 40th birthday celebration. We headed over for drinks after dinner

Dan and Wade jumping off FBFalls

Pools at top of FBFalls

and joined in the celebrations. Good music and great company too – it was a fabulous night.  Wade was having a ball and hit it off very well with Paul’s daughters Mackenzie and Alex.  These guys are traveling as a group of 4 vehicles and call themselves the Winging

Falls at the Saucepan

It Crew! Paul, Maz, Mackenzie and Alex, Kristina and Andrew and Andy, Karen and Jayden are all from around Bundy/Bargara area and Andy, Amanda and Darcy (cute as a button) are from Alice. We also met a German family who are traveling who are visiting and doing the Cape trip also. Big night but great night, even drank some of Paul’s special rum, can’t say I’m a convert though.
Next day was pretty quiet and I managed to catch up on some blog

All the boys jumping off the falls

Swimming at the Saucepan

entries and the kids with their diaries. We went swimming at “The Saucepan” today. It is a shallow set of falls but a nice deep area so it’s a much better swimming hole! I took a walk upstream and found more rapids and some huge rock pools. I’ve stopped counting my photos as there are just way too many, but the place is so beautiful it’s hard not to keep clicking away! The kids went back to do bombies at Eliot Falls with Joel and I wandered around Twin Falls to get some lovely photos and do some exploring as well.  Back at camp Daniel was unloading some big logs from on top of the car when one of them bounced a bit off course and crushed one of the plastic buckets and dinted my Billy -mmmmmm! More bread-making and dinner then back to the neighbors for a few more drinks and catch up!

The Saucepan at Eliot Campground

They are  such a great, warm and genuine bunch of people.  Earlier night this time as we are heading up the rest of the OTL track in the morning.
Till next time

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Our Cape York Trip – Part 2

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 29, 2011

PDR to Bramwell Junction

Wenlock River for lunch

The licence plate tree

Bramwell Junction Roadhouse

Hi Everyone,

We left Weipa and took the track to the PDR via Batavia Downs Station. The road wasn’t too bad, a few washouts but not too corrugated. We stopped for lunch on the northern side of the Wenlock River, just over the concrete bridge. You could camp here but sites are not too big. We passed the Moreton Bay Telegraph Station but didn’t stop as we pushed on to Bramwell Junction RoadHouse. We grabbed an ice-cream and had a great chat to the Managers. They were extremely helpful with recent information about the OTL (Old Telegraph Line) track and a few great suggestions for camping along the way too!  We met a few couples here who were on their way back down the and who had done the OTL track. They also had some excellent advice about some of the crossing. There is a tree at the roadhouse that has a

Start of the OTL track

Palm Ck entry

Palm Ck no 2

Palm Ck exit

number of licence plates nailed to it from casualties of the numerous crossings. The Bramwell Junction Roadhouse is where the southern part of the OTL track begins!

We set off on the OTL track and actually found a lot of the old telegraph poles alongside the track.  Unfortunately most of them have been bent over and the cross bars and insulators removed. We did see a few poles still intact and standing too! We came to Palm Creek, where we met Brett and Joanne. They had

Telegraph line alongside track

Dulcie Ck Crossing

Dulhunty Ck and Falls

come to have a look and watch others go through but wasn’t going himself. We’d been told that this is probably the hardest crossing this year. It sure looked a doozy! It has a big drop into sand and mud and we could see where people before us had placed logs and large rocks for traction. “What the he’ll, let’s  give it a crack” we all decided! Wade was in charge of the video and I was on the camera and radio, talking Joel down the track. It seemed to last forever but he only lost a bit of ground when a log split/cracked under his left rear tyre and he slid a bit to the left and caught the left running board on the edge of a wheel rut. The rest of it was pretty cruisy after that and after crossing the water we noticed one of the wheel

Wade making toast on the fire

hub covers was missing and the running board looked like a banana! The water wasn’t too deep, which was lucky and Joel found the centre hubcap in there.  With all the adrenaline pumping now, we continued up the OTL track for another 3kms to Dulcie Creek. The entry wasn’t as steep and the water not too deep, (about mid-thigh) but we still walked it to check the bottom for holes and make sure there were no surprises. It has a bit of a turn to the right in the water but Joel picked his line and away we went with video and cameras rolling! Nice and easy-out we

Dulhunty Camp

came. The track does have a lot of washouts but there are numerous cheat tracks, read as “only-way-to-get-through” tracks. Couple of kms later we crossed through the Sth Alice Creek, which was quite shallow with easy entry and exit. 8kms later was North Alice Creek which looked quite innocuous. There was an easier track to the left of us which Daniel and Wade both pointed out to Joel, but he was adamant he wanted to use the main track so we walked it across. It wasn’t too deep but there were some big rocks and a few decent drops on entry. Joel thought it would be fine so he

Dulhunty Wagon Camp

and Daniel were in the car, Wade on video with me on camera and radio on the other side of the creek. He made it easily down until the last big rock before entering the water and was a little too far to the right. I stopped clicking the camera and Wade just froze, luckily still filming! The front right hand wheel and rear left wheel were both off the ground and she looked like she was going to tip over but Joel gave it some gas and pushed into the water (lucky it wasn’t deep!) and out they

Riverside drinks

came, nice and easy! OMG! Wade and I raced up the bank to show Joel and Daniel the video footage. It didn’t look quite as scary on the playback but you can definitely see the tip over, then correction! Wow! That’s the closest I want to come to watching it tip over! We pushed on for another 10kms to the Dulhunty River as this was a camp suggestion from the managers at Bramwell junction. The landscape is mostly bush with gums and other low trees and red dirt track with evidence of some serious rainfall, marked by some huge washouts of the track and some

Tarzan swing over the water

massive wheel ruts. It was also about 3pm and we’d had enough excitement for today. We pulled up on the eastern banks of the river to have a look at the camping area and I said to Joel that one of the vehicles looked familiar. Sure enough it was the ‘mob’  from Archer River Roadhouse who  invited us to join their wagon-train camp on the western side. It was a fairly big area so we set up the tent, grabbed a few beers and towels and went down to the river and small falls for a swim.

Wooden propeller got everyone

These guys are fantastically friendly people, either farmers or engineers from Maree and the Eyre Peninsula. We spent hours at the river’s edge chatting, swimming and swapping stories. They are certainly a great bunch of characters, I tell ya! 🙂 Daniel and Wade built a Tarzan swing with their rope and a good stick and swung off the rocks and into the water, just below the falls.  They had a ball and played with it for hours. Apparently when I went to start dinner, one of the knots on the swing loosened and Daniel almost hit the rocks instead of the water! I got Joel to re-check their

Snake in the water

knots the next day just to be sure! We all headed back to camp, made a big, communal fire and dodged the dribs and drabs of rain. We set up our big tarp in the centre of the ‘wagon-train’ creating a shelter-our solace from the wet! We all sat around the fire, under the tarp, after dinner and these guys have a topic each night to discuss; tonight’s was 5 places you want to visit in Oz and everyone has to contribute, even the kids!!  Lots of nice places were talked about and we’ve even been to

Swing in action

some of them already:)
Next day after brekky, Eldon, Dean, Rod and Shane got out their slingshots. Daniel and Wade collected a few of the cans from the previous evening and stacked them like an arcade game target with a tarp behind, then used quandong nuts in the sling shots to shoot them down! I don’t know which kids were enjoying themselves more, the big ones or the little ones! Dean whittled away with some wood and made a propeller with ridges down the shaft.  When you rubbed it with a stick, the propeller spun around one way, then he would make it stop and turn the opposite way. Pretty tricky but kept the kids and adults amused for ages. The kids were quite fascinated with it and Dean let Wade keep it-he was pretty stoked!  The boys went with Joel and Dean to collect some more firewood and they were in awe of his battery-powered, mini chainsaw with a 6″ blade. After weeks of sawing and axing wood I think it was a real winner with the boys and Joel! Looks like we’ll be looking out for that special toy next time we’re at Bunnings. The rest of the morning passed with more shenanigans and quite an education for Dan and Wade-they smiled all day! We spent the arvo near the river again, the kids on their swing

Entry to Bertie Ck

Dan on point guard at Bertie Ck

with “watch me, watch me” and us with a few beers and conversation flowing freely.  Dean was fishing with some bread and managed to hook am few fish but they were definitely catch-and-release material!  Towards the end of the arvo, Ann saw a snake in the water. It looked like a black-headed python but wee were all out of the water like a shot! Luckily it was a little further downstream from where we were swimming and it really wasn’t too big either. I headed up to camp to get the meat and veggies ready for dinner as we are having a roast tonight. Leanne had some pictures on her iPod of her paintings-OMG, she is so talented! The paintings were absolutely fantastic and we can’t wait to meet up with her again in SA and see all the rest of her work! It’s awesome! Her sister, Vicki, had made a diary of their travels last year.  It was full of textiles, drawings, pictures, etc and so imaginative with maps and different information and tidbits interwoven throughout the stories and pictures-it was truly a work of art!  The guys got a ripper of

Farewells to SA mob

Pitcher Plant

a fire started, which was lucky as we were all using coals to cook meals tonight. After dinner, tonight’s topic was “places you would ike to re-visit”. Again a lot of interesting places were discussed.  When the discussion was finished, Ann and Eldon got the kids to play a new game. They tied two sticks together(can use pencils)at each and each had a long piece of string at the end. They laid the sticks on a box, wound a string up over each ear and put a fruit choc or malteser on the sticks. The idea is to bend over, with the strings over your ears, the choc on the stick and slowly pull the string down  and bring the sticks and hence the choc, to your mouth. Hilarious fun! especially after a few drinks (not the kids, of course). It was a great as everyone tried it. Lots of jokes(some of which the kids got:)) and laughs and great company.  I could see Dan’s eyes lighting up, thinking who can we play this game with and on!  There were spots of annoying rain while we were packing up and yet it was still a bunch of fun and games with these guys helping us-at least I think that’s

Cholmondeley Ck

Cholmondeley Ck exit

what Dean was doing:)) we will miss these guys a lot.
We followed the “wagon train” through Bertie Creek crossing. It has some lovely pools, to sit in and cool off in, but also requires you to turn a hard right before the creek and cross further upstream so as to miss the huge holes. It has a rocky bottom but was a relatively easy crossing, especially as Ann stood next to the big hole in the middle so no-one would drive into it. Thanks Ann! We kept on the OTL track until the gunshot bypass, where we bid fond farewells to our new friends with promises to definitely visit them in SA in months to come! The convoy headed east back to the PDR and we gulped and headed off to the next crossing, Cholmondeley Creek. It was a fairly easy, sandy creek crossing. The water in these creeks is crystal clear and this is where we first spot the famous pitcher plants. They are quite an unusual but pretty little carnivorous plant, which tends to grow more like a vine.  10 kms later we reaches the famous “Gunshot Creek!”  It has a reputation for devouring

Gunshot Ck entry

Gunshot Ck no2

vehicles and we’ve seen some perla shots of vehicles rolled over and stuck in this particular crossing.  We have been told though, that it’s not too bad this year and that Palm Creek (the first one we did) is worse. We figured we came through that one with just a bit of a bend in the running board let’s give this one a crack! It’s not the actual water crossing that presents the problem as it’s a nice, sandy, relatively shallow crossing. It’s more the steep declines into and out of the creek that are full of huge washouts, holes and some with slippery mud that cause the most angst! We pulled up at the top of Gunshot Creek and took a long walk down . There are several entrances to choose from and just as we were deciding a fella called ‘Gary’ came and had a chat to Joel. He’d just driven through with his mate and had stopped on the other side for a cuppa. They decided on the entrance farthest to the left side and Gary spotted for Joel and radioed him on his decent while I took photos and the boys videoed it! I tell ya it’s heart-in-the-mouth kinda stuff sometimes! Joel did a fantastic job as

Gunshot Ck water crossing easy

Gunshot Ck exit

young guys harder Gunshot entry

did Gary because the car is still intact and driveable. It’s really nice to have absolute strangers offering to spot and guide other people through these crossings, especially for us as we are traveling on our own. It’s good to be able to talk through the crossings with someone else, even if only to reassure yourself at you’ve picked the correct line of attack! After making it to the other side and stopping for a chat we watched 2 other vehicles (young guys) come though the more steep entrance on the far right of the creek.  It was about a 70 degree decline straight

Young guys almost there

Young guys made it

Gunshot Ck casualty no1

into the mud and water which was very exciting to watch.  We videoed/took photos and both the blue 80series and white Nissan Navara did it fairly easily. You get pretty pumped after you’ve made it through relatively unscathed! After a bit more chatting we pressed on along the track. We are still seeing lots of the old telegraph poles along the track in the bush. The OTL track is very corrugated between Gunshot Creek and Cockatoo Creek. About 3 kms later we stopped at a grave a few kms after Gunshot Ck. It belongs to one W.J.Brown who was a linesman on

Gunshot Ck casualty no2

Cockatoo Ck 4WD bus crossing

Cockatoo Ck entry

the OTL track who dies in 1945. The young guns we saw at Gunshot Ck passed us here while we were stopped, as did a couple of  other vehicles. It’s sort of reassuring to see so many vehicles on the OTL! Another 6kms of corrugations and we hit Cockatoo Creek. We got out to walk down and watched in awe as one of the 4WD tour buses was about to cross the creek. Awesome job, the driver made it look so easy. We met up with the young guns again and all of us were in the water walking across, checking out the creek bottom. It was very clear water so the big

Cockatoo Ck half way

Cockatoo Ck almost out

Sailor Ck

holes were easy to spot, but when you are in the car, you can’t always see down into the water over the bonnet. One of the young guys went through first while his mate spotted for him, then he returned and stood in the water next to a huge hole so the next lot of people to cross wouldn’t veer to far right and drive into it. We watched one old codger who hadn’t bothered to walk the crossing, who clearly wanted to be across this creek already, and he almost hit the poor young guy as he stood in the water trying to help him. He jumped out-of-the-way

Scrubby Ck entry

Scrubby Ck no 2

just in time and the old guy just kept on going, no thanks, no nothing! Joel made it through with Wade nice and easy with photos and video aplenty! We kept on up the track passing the same bus which had stopped at Sheldon’s lagoon to watch the bird life. The next crossing was Sailor’s Creek, a low, wooden bridge and the creek didn’t have much water in it either. As we exited the bridge and crossing, there was a corrugated lean-to and old water tank up on the hill on the left-hand-side.  It looked like a good place to make camp but we were early enough to try to make Eliot Falls campground, so we pushed on. We came to the end of the southern OTL Track, which then joined the bypass road for the next 9kms, then we took the turn-off to Eliot and Fruit Bat Falls. We passed the turn off to Fruit Bat Falls, thinking we’d come back later after we’d set up camp. A few kms down the track we came to another creek, Scrubby Creek. We did as we have been doing and got out to walk it through, meeting up with the young guns again. It was a sandy bottom but no big

Licence plate starting to lift

Scrubby Ck exit

holes and about mid-thigh depth so through we went, after the young guys. They were continuing on and going to have a look at Nolan’s Brook but we were stopping just up the road at Eliot Falls campground. We wished them luck as the stories are plentiful about the number of vehicles waiting to return to Cairns on the ferry as they have drowned in Nolan’s Brook! The number plate on the front of the car has started to lift and we were told that it’s the water in the deeper crossings that will lift it forward and break it off.  When we get to the campsite we will use some cable ties to hold down the  bottom of the licence plate so we don’t lose it.

Till the next exciting episode


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Our Cape York Trip – Part 1

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 29, 2011

Bob's Lookout

Battlecamp Rd to Lakefield NP

Hi Everyone,

Woo hoo! All packed up finally and we are ready to go. Left the van and topped up with fuel at Mt Carbine and we’re off and racing about 1000am. We stopped at Bob’s lookout about 30kms out-of-town for a view of the surrounds-lots of graffiti and burnt out bins unfortunately. A few more kms down the road we realized we have left the spare towels and Joel’s laptop behind in the van- ah well no turning back now! We pushed on to the Palmer River Roadhouse and stopped to check it out. It’s a nice R/H with grassed area to camp out the back. After a loo break, chokky fix and a sticker for the car we left the friendly staff and headed onto Laura. The roads are all bitumen till Lakeland then gravel with intermittent bits of bitumen till Laura. We stopped at a park opposite the Quinkan Hotel, snagged a shady spot and had some lunch. Back on the Peninsular Development Road (PDR) =gravel, we turned onto Battlecamp Rd, turned L at the Old Laura Homestead and we’re on our

Kalpower - croc warning

Kalpower camp

Kalpower crossing

way through the Lakefield National Park. The road is less corrugated and seems much better than the PDR! We get to the Lakefield Self-registration station only to find one site left. We sign in and go and check it out at Kalpower Crossing. Lucky last site and it’s a huge one although it is right next to the toilets. It’s a hybrid/pit toilet and lucky for us it’s not too smelly either! We set up the tent and our new tarp and poles for shade and rain! Joel went back and pd the camping fees while we set up camp.  Joel made a chilli con carne while Wade and I explored the river and watched out for crocs. There are warning signs along the water’s edge to watch out for crocs and not to swim or fish ear the edge of

Pandanus Park

the river/creeks. We met a few of the neighbors who were on their way back from the Top and got some great info for good places to stay, things to see, what the OTL track was like, etc. Dinner was very yummy as were the toasted marshmallows over the fire for dessert! The boys washed up then an early night.

Jack's Lakes

Next day we took a drive north-easterly across the Kalpower Crossing. It is a concrete-bottomed crossing with a barricade that is put down in the wet season to stop people trying to cross. The Kalpower Homestead/Station is now back with the Traditional Owners but you can still access Jack’s Lake and Jack River National Park. We came across a restricted access sign, called UHF#1 for access, then stopped at Pandanus Park where a guy met up with us. PP is a Vietnam Vets Retreat. There is a consecrated/blessed memorial, inclusive of flagpole and plaques and every Aug 18th, there is a gathering in memorial of the battle of Lon Tan. We had a great chat to ?John who told us a bit about the history of the place and also explained why there were so many dead barra in

Dead Barra everywhere

the rivers. There were heaps of dead ones (huge ones) back at Kalpower as well. Apparently they died from a disease called white spot, which is caused by an extreme change in the water temperature. We thanked him for permission to pass thru and visited Jack’s Lakes. They were very

Hann Crossing

swampy with lots of lilies and we couldn’t find the campground described in Ron Moon’s book on the Cape. It looked like croc heaven!!! We tracked back to Pandanus Park and lunched along the elevated creek edge. On our way back to camp we saw the biggest fresh water croc we’ve ever seen on the banks of a billabong, just south of the Kalpower Homestead, easily 3m.  We collected some firewood and the boys were very handy with the axe and saw again. We had a ripper fire, thanks to more sawing from the kids and Joel and a fabulous camp roast of beef and veggies. Wade had even cleaned out the fireplace with the shovel to make room for our fire-great teamwork, hope it lasts!!  Another night of toasted marshmallows and star gazing, what a great night!

Road to Port Stewart

After packing up we decided not to go to Cape Melville but to instead keep heading further north. We drove through the rest of Lakefield National Park, up thru Hanns Crossing and we made it to the Musgrave R/H where we found a shady tree near the grave stones and made some lunch. We

Camp at Port Stewart

checked out the RH, grabbed a commemorative stubby holder then back onto the PDR towards Coen. We took a R turn before Coen and headed along a newly graded gravel road, which was heaven after the corrugated PDR, and made for Port Stewart. We found a campsite in a sandy camping area down near the mangroves and bush.  Nearby campers explained that an Aboriginal bloke owns the land or caretakes it and sometimes he comes around to collect fees and we should camp where we like. We never saw him at all. We drove around Port Stewart for a look-see but the area is very today and full of mangroves on the northern side and if you don’t have a boat then you can’t get to the water to fish. When the tide is in, the creek is high and the view is great but then you

Tide out at Port Stewart

worry about crocs so close to the water’s edge because you can see them on low tide so you know that they are out there! Back to camp for a yummy dinner of crumbed steak and veggies, then watched a movie on my iPad before bed. We decided to just do one night here as there wasn’t much

Old track to Coen

to see or do for us.  We packed up in a little bit of rain (bugger) and about 15kms short of the PDR we took a R and headed down a section of the OTL, which is the old track back into Coen. OMG! This track is not used much and had heaps of washouts but was fantastic 4WDriving! 15kms took us about 2hrs to complete as the road was so rough in patches. We saw some wild pigs and lots of brolgas as well. We did have to back-tracked once or twice to find tracks around the washouts but it was worth it! We made it to Coen and had some lunch undercover across the road from the sExchange Hotel! There is phone service here so we check our emails and Facebook. It’s not a very big town but the general store/servo has a good variety of foodstuffs and meat, milk, etc. We were pretty good for food but it was good to know in case we need stuff on the way back down. We kept on and made the Archer River

Track is in here somewhere

RoadHouse. We paid for 2 nights camping as one night has knobs on it for setting up and packing everything down! We camped down at the bottom end of the paddock, unpowered sites but we can have a fire! Yeah! We had a quick spaghetti bol for tea then sat around the fire with some new neighbors from SA and NSW. They were all headed to the Cape as well and 2 of the blokes had car extensions like ours, so there was lots to talk about. Eldon and Ann, Ron and Vicki, Dean and Leanne and Shane and Lyn-it was an absolute pleasure to meet you and we’ll be sure to drop by when we pass thru SA.  We farewelled our new friends and spent the day swimming in the river. The kids got a bit burnt as they were panning for gold in the river as they thought the river sand was full of quartz, so there

sExchange Hotel

might be gold in them thar hills! No luck with the gold but it kept them busy for most of the day:) A quiet day of swimming and reading and I made some breads in the camp oven on the coals. Yummo! The clothes lines are actually a couple of old telegraph poles, complete with crossbars and insulators.  Our neighbors tonight are some people we met just before we left Cairns we had gone out for

Archer River RH camp

dinner with my friend Rina and Dave and these were their friends who were also at dinner- small world! Joel and Wade went to the loos about 9:30pm, Joel waited at the gate, not 50m from the loos and when Wade got to Joel he realized he’d left his head lamp in the loos. He raced back to find a group of aboriginal guys (early 20’s) with one pocketing it. He was quite scared when he came back and told Joel, who went and asked them if they had seen it- to which they replied “Nah mate!” They were looking for some booze but the BA was closed. Not much else to do but Wade was so upset. He said he was too scared to say anything to the one who had taken his light-poor kid! We heard them

Cooling off in Archer River

speed off, music blaring about 15mins later and reassured Wade that he’d done the right thing and we’d get him another headlamp and none of it was his fault. We have since heard storied of noisy parties and domestics at the actual river sand camping, NOT at the RoadHouse. My advice would be to stay at the RoadHouse, which is brilliant by the way, and pay a few dollars.

Gold prospecting

When we were packing up Dan’s valve broke on the single air mattress, so lucky we have a spare, although it is a queen. We were back on the PDR for only 36kms before we turned off R and headed out east towards Chili Beach and Lockhart River. We stopped at a spot a few kms in and collected a heap of firewood- once again J and D with the axe and saw! We crossed the Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers which were low, sandy and no problems. Both were quite pretty too. We signed in and paid camping fees at the self-registration station and it looked like some big gathering or school carnival was on, with all the colorful shade gazebos. We found out later it was in fact the handing over of the

Pascoe River Crossing

free-hold titles back to several Aboriginal Clans. The running of the Iron Range National Park will remain with the QPWS in consultation with the Traditional Owners. Apparently it has been a 2 day process/celebration and we stumbled upon the middle of it! We backtracked to the Y junction and headed to Cook’s hut to camp as we’ve been told it’s very windy at Chili Beach Campground. Got to

Iron Range NP Lookout

Cook’s Hut with pit toilets and literally in the middle of rainforest! It was just beautiful! There was only one other tent and no other traffic so we decided to eat lunch first then set up so we don’t chew each others heads off as tempers tend to flare a bit when the natives are hungry:)!  We met our neighbor, Yuri while his wife and young son were sleeping. He was working with the Lockhart River Community to find ways of incorporating tourism projects like fishing charters of then area, or Indigeneous Arts’n’Crafts to allow more access to the area for us, non-indigenous people to still be able to access this area. He told us about some places we could fish and some interesting things to

Coconut de-husking

Quintell Beach and rocks

see. We headed out to Quintell Beach, through the Lockhart River Community and even though it was a very overcast day it was still an interesting spot. The kids found a couple of coconuts still in their


husks so we put them in the car for later. We stopped at the Lockhart Airfield or rather Gordon Airfield and read about the WW2 use of it as an American Base.

Yuri also told us where to find some of the old WW2 bunkers. Leaving the airport and heading north, find a house on a clearing on the L with tyres and other decorations on the front fence. Then

Gordon Airbase

WW2 Bunkers

the rainforest starts again on the L, go down a dip in the road and just to the left you will see a track. We parked the car on the road but you can turn down this track and park up at the water tanks (which I would recommend). There is a short walk, with bits of survey tape tied to the trees to indicate the loop track. There were heaps of bunkers in numerous states of dis-repair and some still had bunks in them. The kids found them quite interesting too! We headed back to camp where the boys spent the best part of

Rainforest Everywhere

90mins trying to de-husk the coconuts with a screw driver and a claw hammer!!! The flesh was very yummy and the dry husks were good kindling to get the next fire started too. The boys were

Fire started from coals

cleaning out the old fire and found some live coals,(luckily not with their hands), so they thought they’d try to start the fire with no matches. They did really well, using the copra (coconut husks) from earlier on to get the fire started. Not long and we had a rip-roaring fire. Well done Boys!  There are almost no big rocks in the camping area so we used some of our big logs to rest the BBQ plate on over the fire and cooked up. Feast of burgers, bacon, eggs and onions to make our yummy hamburgers with the lot! Just because we’re in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean we don’t eat well:)  there is a fresh water creek about 200m from the camp but it has crocodile warning signs up so no swimming! Joel and Wade took a bucket on a rope to throw into the river to collect some fresh water to fill our 28L plastic container. Joel installed a Glinda hot water unit under the bonnet and tonight we’re testing it out! Basically it pumps water from a reservoir (28L container) and runs it through the air conditioner unit in the car – so we use the air-con thermostat, set it to hot and away we go! It works best if the car has been running for a bit! We decided to shower in the dark, (with minimal light:)) and had an awesome, hot, soapy

View from cafe at Portland Roads

Bit too windy for fishing

bush-shower. Ooh it feels good to be clean and warm. The shower is a resounding success, money well spent!

We had some rain overnight and it’s still quite cloudy too. Late brekky then off to explore Chili Beach and  Portland Roads. The roads are not too bad, certainly not corrugated like the main PDR! We are driving through a rainforest canopy as we drive into Chili Beach and it’s just amazing and quite pretty too! We pulled into the Chili Beach camping area and there were lots of empty sites still available.  Some of the sites are quite exposed but there are some brilliant sites, tucked away in the rainforest but still with ocean views! Sometimes it pays to check out places for ourselves and not rely too much on what other people say! We met Ranger Russell as he was trying to collect the camping fees from then locked box-in his words ” These locks are made for a 9th old girls hands!!”  He was quite a character and we had a brilliant chat with him. We asked him heaps of questions

Portland Roads Beach

Chili beach

and he answered them all, with heaps of humor too! I asked him how next year will be, as they are doing away with the self-registration, first-come-first-served-basis and replacing it with an on-line booking system.! We have changed our dates and actual places to visit numerous times, either due to weather or circumstance so having to pin down the exact dates to be somewhere to camp will be very difficult. I am so glad we have done this Cape York trip this year and not next year! He said he’s not looking forward to the first few months next year either but then the Rangers don’t make the decisions, the “suits in Brisbane” do. That figures. They have probably never camped out here and there’s no Internet or phone service so how will people be able to make or alter their booking? Something to think about.

Dan and I collected some more coconuts to eat later on. We met 2 couples camping here who told us that the Portland Roads Cafe was well worth a trip for lunch, but it closes at 2pm. So we hightailed it


Strong Man!

off to check it out!  Portland Roads has a few houses and shacks and the cafe blends in well with them. We sat out on the verandah, undercover and watched the world go by. The staff were very friendly and bought out photos for us to see some of the history of the place.  There were photos of the old jetty (which Joh Bielke  had demolished to “try to get rid of the hippies”-which didn’t work!), photos of cyclone damage and some from WW2. After pigging out on Thai Beef Salad, Fish and chips and dessert, we took a long walk out past the headlands and rocks.  It’s supposed to be good fishing but the tide was only just on its way in and there was a howling on-shore wind as well.  Looks like the fishing Gods are just not on Wade’s side! We left and headed back to look some more at Chili Beach. We drove down onto the beach itself and drove along the sand looking for Chili Creek, but all we found was heaps and heaps of rubbish. The rubbish washes in from the sea and it was flabbergasting to see just how much crap washes up onto the shore! We hadn’t let our tyres down much as the sand was quite wet and packed but when we went to turn around we found the sand way too soft. The kids and Joel let the tyres down and dug out in

The Thong Tree

front of the tyres and we were soon on our way again! Unfortunately when we checked one of the tyres, Joel noticed a tech-screw in it so looks like another job to do back at camp. The weather is still very overcast and even if it wasn’t, there’s not really anywhere to swim as it’s all croc country up here! We stopped at the legendary thong tree and took the obligatory photos.  There are some massive trees on the foreshore with the most amazingly HUGE root systems. The angle of the palms growing

Rubbish washed up on beach

Massive tree roots

along the foreshore shows that it is indeed a windy place most of the time. ranger Russell said he removes hundreds of coconut palms each year as they a multiplying so much that they are invading the natural Rain Forrest and destroying it. back at camp Joel and Daniel plugged the tyre with the tech-screw in it and change out one of the spare tyres. Wade and I played Jack and Jill and ferried water up from the creek for tonight’s showers. All the wood and kindling was still wet from all the rain but we still managed a good fire with them help of a fire-lighter or two. A yummy dinner of korma curry and rice, nice hot shower and then the kids and I are doing diary updates. It rained again overnight

Roads are mud after rain

and the kids were sleeping on the floor, in water! We found that a stick has spiked through the tarp under the tent, through the tent floor and the spare air mattress the kids are sleeping on. Ugh! Not looking good! The rain is still coming down so we decide on a change of plans. A late pack up due to the rain but we’ll head into Weipa to see if we can get a new air mattress. We saw more black, wild pigs near Brown’s Creek on our way out to the PDR today too! The road to Weipa is very corrugated but as soon as you see the Comalco signs (the mine) you could see the change in the condition of the road as it has been graded more recently and often! We drove to the 80km/h speed limit but noticed many did not! We got into Weipa about 3:30pm on a sat arvo, praying that there was a camping store AND it was still open! Bingo! Found a new single air mattress, then it was off to book into the caravan park. We got a powered site for 3 nights and were shown a nice, big, grassed site out the back of the cabins. The sites are not allocated sites as such, just look around and find a spot, near a power pole. We set up camp, had long, hot showers and washed hair then a delicious dinner of crumbed steak, mash and peas. Everyone is very tired today as we didn’t get a lot of sleep with the kids I mattress deflating during the night, so we’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep! Spent Sunday relaxing, washing clothes, swimming in the pool and reading. We charged up all the cameras, videos, iPods, Engel and anything else with a battery, while we had power! Joel cooked us up another great

Weipa haulpak crossroads

Weipa Campsite no 1

chilli con carne master chef dinner. Monday saw the kids doing diary updates and swimming while Joel and I drove around town to try to get a new UHF antenna and a new solar panel regulator too. Stopped in initially at Weipa Auto – please don’t set your time stopping in! After waiting to be served, the staff couldn’t have given a rats about helping us. “Nah don’t have it” is all we got, with no suggestions of elsewhere or alternatives, just turned and went back to his book! Mmmm! We headed off around the corner to a Communications Mob – they didn’t have the antenna we needed but did have a solar regulator and were at least helpful. Then we went to Kowari Motors-well the 2 businesses are like chalk and cheese! Very friendly and helpful staff-they could fit us in for a tyre change in about 15mins. The Townsville boss was in and asked Joel lots of questions about the conversion on the car. Half an hour later and we were all done. Joel replaced the solar regulator on the solar panel but there was still no charge to the battery.?! A car pulled up next to us, going into one of the units.  Turns out he’s had a fair bit to do with solar panels, etc so he came over to have a look and a chat. His name was John and he used to own land around Chili Beach, many moons ago. He was great to chat with and his wife, with lots of good stories about their life in Chili Beach and the Lockhart Community. After lots of trouble-shooting with the new and old regulator, they came to the conclusion that the battery is just not getting run down enough from the fridge to require topping up. So at least we know the regulator is ok so will keep an eye on the battery. Weipa has a decent-sized Woolies so we topped up on some dry supplies and packed down ready to move out tomorrow. We also stopped in at the camping store and picked up a spare double air mattress, just in case!

Till next time


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Mission Beach, Cairns and Mt Carbine – July 11

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 2, 2011

Cassowary Crossing sign

Bingli Bay

Elk-horn ferns in the trees

Hi Everyone,

We left Rowes Bay CP, jumped on the Bruce Highway heading north out-of-town. We have done this road late last year but in an XR6 and definitely not towing the van. We are starting to see some of the damage from cyclone Yasi, from earlier this year. Claire had shown us photos of the damage done in Townsville but we were un-prepared for what we saw at Cardwell. We stopped at the same servo for lunch and were just amazed at how much of the thick mangroves had been destroyed along the beach front. It was quite sad to see and some of the houses are still without sections of roofing, using tarps to keep out the rain and weather! It was

Clump Point Jetty

Some of the damage from cyclone Yasi

inspiring to see most of the businesses up and running again.  Back on the road again, we saw the banana plantations seem to have recovered with bunches of fruit encased in foil and bags to protect and ripen the fruit. Woo hoo hopefully this means the price of bananas will drop as produce availability increases. Trivia fact: did you know that bananas are actually classified as a herb and a fruit? The fruit is because it has the seeds of the plant in the fruit and a herb because it’s stem doesn’t contain true woody tissue, therefore it is herbaceous = herb.
Took the T/O to Mission Beach and are staying at the Big 4 in South MB, which is called the Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village. It is owned by the same mob who own the Cairns Coconut Village Holiday Park. The park is right on the beachfront  with magnificent views of Dunk Is. The staff were really friendly and helpful and we setup on a nice grassed site. I flicked through a photo

Skate park = energy burner

Skate park on the beach

album at the front desk that has pics of the place before and after cyclones Larry and Yasi. The place has made an amazing recovery in such a short space of time -full credit to the managers and staff as they say it was pretty hairy at the time! There are heaps of yellow Cassowary Crossing signs along the roadways too. We’ve seen one at the Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park in Broome and in the Steve Irwin Australian Zoo as well but never seen one in the bush.
We took a drive thru MB and up along the coast to Bingli Bay. It’s such a beautiful area but loads of coastal damage still. I imagine it would’ve been magnificent before the cyclone damage. We stopped in to chat to a bloke at the tourist centre who informed us that Dunk Is was closed to the public now as the jetty and other infrastructure was flattened from Yasi! They are re-building and hoping to re-open to the public in April 2012! I’m starting to see more elk-horn ferns just growing in the trees. Magnificent and definitely tropical:)
We stopped at the skate park for the kids to burn off some energy then back to camp for dinner and a movie, HP

Happy little fisherman

Nice angle on those palms

Camp site used to be much thicker with rainforest

#4; we’re warming up for HP7, pt2. Next day was a lazy morning of swimming, reading and relaxing by the pool, which was cool and refreshing but couldn’t stay in it for long, just lots of dips. Kids did some schoolwork and then off to the beach for a late fish on the beach in front of the park. No fish but they had a ball and Wade reckons the water was warmer in the sea than it was in the pool!  We took some photos of the beach which shows how much sand was moved. It’s amazing to see some of the palms still growing, some on a 90 degree angle!!
Left MB and heading towards Cairns. We’re undecided about a CP as the Big4 at Crystal Cascades is closer to where my cousin lives but not much for the kids to do, whereas the Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort has rave reviews but is a lot more expensive and not as close to Tanya’s. We decided to give CHP a go for a few nights and see how it goes-WOW- AWESOME!!! I can understand how/why they have won awards for the best CP for the last 5yrs.  The staff took us around in a “nemo” themed golf cart to show us some prospective sites. We thought we’d be okay with a site as it’s no longer Qld school holidays but it’s still school holidays in NSW and Vic. The place was packed! We opted for an un-powered site

Dan, Wade, Tanya and Zephyr

Tanya and Me at Trinity Beach

Trinity Beach

and moved the next day to a powered bus site, which was much longer and bigger than a normal site. The place is amazing, the grounds/gardens are immaculate and green, green grass. There are 2 pools, a playground for the kids, 2x jumping pillows and a water park/playground that was unbelievable. They have outdoor movies screening every 2nd night, mostly G and PG which was great. There is mini-golf, life-sized chess, table tennis all included in the price! The kids thought they’d died and gone to heaven!:) No sooner had we pulled up than we lost

Awesome giant game of chess

One of 2 pools at CP

the kids for a few hours in the pool and playing chess!
Joel and I totally unpacked the Canopy of the car, put the 2 spares on the roof and started to re-arrange things in prep for our trip to Cape York. We have heaps of room on this grassed site, so we checked out the tent, the new tarp for shade and rain and made sure we had enough poles for it all! Did a few loads of washing, kids did more schoolwork and then didn’t see them till dinner time! Love, love, love this park! I can see why it’s so popular with families!
We visited my cousin Tanya for a yummy chicken Kiev and veggies then a few drinks and lots of laughs. Unfortunately I left my red jumper on the patio while we ate tea and Zephyr (the dog) decided he’d like to make it his new chew toy. Poor Tan was horrified but it’s only a jumper I kept telling her! I needed a new excuse to go shopping for a new one!
Spent the best part of the next day doing paperwork and schoolwork with the kids. We are looking

Lipstick Palms = gorgeous

Waterpark in the caravan park! Very cool!

after a couple of investment properties ourselves whilst on the road – helped tremendously by the fact that we have brilliant tenants who make our job so much easier; well one does anyway! Managed to get another jumper which is very toasty and warm. I’m hoping the weather improves and we get to some warm stuff soon so I won’t need the jumper! Joel made a delicious chilli con carne and Tan joined us for tea and laughs. Next day was rainy but a perfect excuse to see HP 7 Pt#2. It was a fantastic movie, but a bit sad that the series is finished though. It has been wonderful to share these movies with the kids. I don’t know who has enjoyed them more, us or the kids!
My friends Rina and Dave (from Rutherglen) are here in Cairns atm, so we caught up for dinner and a chat. They had some friends from Rutherglen who were in town, heading to the Cape like us, so lots to chat about over dinner! We ate at the Red Beret, a trendy pub in Freshwater where the food was delicious!
We went back to the house they are staying in, a big, old Queenslander for more drinks and coffee. Great food and great company = great night!
Buntings was our destination the next day  to pick up some last-minute things for the trip and some plastic 45L containers for food Nd storage. We ordered our meat from the butcher, Mighty Nice Meats Cairns at Stockland in Earlville, to be cryovacced and we’ll pick it up on Wed. Back at the CP Joel put the snatch strap around one of the trees and unwound the winch as we still hd not re-tensioned it but the winch wouldn’t wind in. Bugger and many other expletives later we rang the guy who was servicing the car tomorrow and he’d said he’d have a look at it for us as they are the local 4×4 Ironman distributors.
Put the car in for service and check at Nathan Lockyer 4×4 in am. Looks like winch motor is stuffed as when originally installed they didn’t put in an isolating

Packing and sorting for The Cape.

switch and a bit of water has gotten in and fried the motor. Not happy Jan! He didn’t have another motor for our model (of course not that would be too easy!) and a new one would take 7-10 days. Joel had the whole winch and motor replaced instead. They also need the car for another day as they need to remove the bull bar to install the new winch. Rang Tan as we were supposed to go over for dinner but she came and picked us up and dropped us off afterwards. She is a LEGEND!!! Clint and Tanya have a keyboard that wade has been bashing on and he’s actually not too bad on it! He keeps asking for one and maybe we should look into it before he decides he likes the drums even more!! Next day was spent converting movies and music to fill our iPods. Last round of washing, cleaning and schoolwork as well. We don’t make the kids do schoolwork when camping in the tent but they must keep a daily diary. We did a massive shop and picked up our meat order too. Went to Dan Murphy’s for some alcoholic beverages but Cairns local council does allow casks to be sold until 4pm! Went back later to p/u some cask wine and beer for Joel and a few Smirnoff Vodka and cranberry casks for me! MMMMM we have found that casks pack much easier in the car and Engel than cans – also they don’t make alcoholic cider in a can yet either and we don’t take glass stubbies with us camping! We went out to dinner with Tanya at the Trinity Beach hotel, busy place and meals were okay. The fish wasn’t really that fresh unfortunately which was disappointing when u consider where we are.

Look how clean it is - Cape York here we come!

Next day was spent packing all the food for the next 4-5 weeks into containers and trying to remember everything else too! Final iPod loadings and we’re ready to Rock and roll!
We were going to leave our van at CHP for $6/night storage fees but had heard and read that u could leave them at Mt Carbine for $0, I rang Rob at Mt Carbine CP and yes we can leave our van there so long as we stay the night before and the night after we return and he would indeed store our van there!
So we left Cairns next morning and wound our way over the mountain, thru Kuranda and Mareeba and headed to Mt Carbine. We travelled through some beautiful rainforest here. We set up the van in the same spot as we would be storing it so we didn’t have to move it in the morning. I defrosted the fridge, (hate this part) and cleaned it out so there would be no mould on our return like there was when we returned from the Gibb River Trip! Phewwweee!
Next was packing all our clothes and ticking off the list for the rest of then packing!
We were all stuffed so we decided to go to the pub for a drink and see what the meals were like.We made it about 1/2 doz steps towards the pub door when a group of people yelled at us to join them and have a drink and a chat! They were a bunch from SA who’d been warming the pub seats for a while during the arvo:) As usual Joel got lots of questions about the car and the conversion and the WA plates. This mob is also on their way to the Cape, just waiting for a few more from SA to join them. Mt Carbine has a Caravan Park, pub and servo and we managed to visit all 3 by the time we left the next day. The meals were great, big pub meals and quite delicious too! Rob, the owner/manager of the CP has a meet’n’greet @4pm where he told us all about the history of Mt Carbine and the mining in the area. It was all quite fascination and nice to meet some other happy campers, some who’d been to the Cape and others, like us, still on their way up! Back to camp for some sleep as our new adventure to Cape York starts tomorrow!
Till next time

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Airlie Beach and Towns again July 11

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 2, 2011

Boardwalk view

Saunders Beach and Harbour

Hi Everyone,
It was an easy pack down at Mooranbah – we’re getting into quite a good routine with our set-up and pack-down. Originally the kids had their own jobs to do but now they know what needs to be done and they just jump in and do what needs to be done. Daniel is so big now that he can help Joel with a lot of the things that i used to do and Wade is amazing too, doing lots of things without having to be asked:) We stopped at a rest area in Eton for lunch, across the road from the pub, which was quite busy for a Monday! We had lots of yummy left overs from Anessa (thanks Aneesa) and we used the microwave to heat them up, using the inverter which is charged from the solar panels. After a few minutes Wade saw some smoke coming from the front of the van and Joel smelt a burning smell. The wires from the inverter to the battery had melted! It has never happened before and we’ve given the inverter a pretty good hiding, especially in Tassie! Luckily lunch was

Kids on ripsticks

More harbour views

Lots of very nice boats here

warm enough to eat and Joel will need to organize new, thicker cables when we hit Airlie Beach. We stayed at the Big 4 Airlie Cove Resort. It’s a nice park but the sites were a little muddy and there were no slab sites left big enough for us. The mozzies and midges were starting on me already so out came the coils, candles and sprays!
After set-up we took a drive back through Airle – it’s a very touristy town, with the main street full of small shops, lots of cafes, pubs and a very “beachy feel” to the place. Oh and a Maccas! I can tell the kids are growing up as Maccas is very rarely requested these days. If we are going out for tea they love Thai food or a good pub meal and chicken schnitzel is always a favorite! And they are both eating like horses too! Why can’t they take it in turns to have their growth spurts:) We stopped in at Saunders Beach. It has a nice green lawned area and I think it is a dog beach too. The water was so beautiful and the place so picturesque. While the kids played on their rip-sticks, Joel and I went for a short walk along the boardwalk. The views of the harbour and inlet were magnificent. It was a beautiful, sunny day so everything just sparkled. There are some pretty magnificent boats in this harbour!! We’d love to have done a trip to the Whitsunday Is and chartered a yacht but the weather has been so unpredictable and it does cost a bit so we thought we’d leave it for another time, maybe just

Cafe on the water

The Lagoon=awesome place

Joel and I. Back at camp, Joel managed to find an auto electrician who will make up some new cables for the inverter-battery and we can pick them up tomorrow.
Clothes washing in am but the washing lines are in the shade??? We went for a stickybeak at the shops, some groceries and to pick up the cables, that Joel wanted to fit ASAP. After lunch we headed down to the Lagoon! What a fantastic area in town! It is a lagoon-styled pool, with grassed surrounds, BBQ areas, seats, etc. It sits just back from the beach but is protected at the same time. There’s also a kids paddle pool for the littlies. The boys had a ball here as they met another couple of boys about the same age and they both played in and out of the water for hours. It was good for them as they have been a bit starved of other kids to play with, well Daniel especially. Joel chucked on his running shoes and went for a run around the boardwalk and I went for a good 6km walk. Joel jumped in for a swim with the kids when he got back and I settled for paddling my feet as the water

More of the Lagoon

Mobile rock climbing wall

was quite cool. Joel and I read on the grass for a while until the pruned-up boys had had enough for the day. The boys want to return here tomorrow as the other kids will be coming back again also-sounds good to me! Back at camp and the washing is still not dry at 4pm! We brought it in and hung it up under the awning hoping some of it will dry. The kids caught up on some more schoolwork then we headed into town for a delicious lunch at a local cafe. Then onto the lagoon for an afternoon of swimming, reading and relaxing. We have been very lucky with the weather of late, a bit cloudy but mostly sunny and NO RAIN! Quiet night tonight as heading off to Townsville tomorrow. Our friend Claire had contacted us on fb and told us that the V8 Supercars were on in Towns this weekend and we may find it hard to get accommodation! She was right! Nearly every caravan park was fully booked except for Rowes Bay Caravan Park. They didn’t take bookings, you just had to ring up on the day and see if they had any vacancies. We had a couple of free camps as a back up in case we couldn’t get in anywhere. Luckily there was a large site available for us when we rang Rowes Bay Caravan Parkin the morning- yeah! What a great

Made it to the top

spot! The CP is right across from the beach, which is very tidal but still a lovely spot. After setting up we visited Claire, Corey and Kimberley, our old neighbors from Perth! Rob was at work but joined us later where we had eagle boys pizza and a few bevvies. The weather is nice and hot and a pleasant change from the cold. Joel ran and I walked along the Esplanade – it’s just so nice to walk with these sort of sea views. Joel went to do some odd jobs and

Where can i put my foot?

the kids and I caught up with Claire and the kids at The Esplanade and also some of their friends. There are heaps of concrete areas where the kids could cut sick with their rip sticks and some grass for a bit of footy too.
Joel found us all later and it we had a great afternoon with a great bunch of people. Most people are quite surprised when we say we are traveling and home schooling the kids and most are positive about it and some just down right jealous!:)
There were stalls being set-up on an oval area opposite us and Claire informed us that they have

Too cool for school!

regular Friday night markets here. There was a guy who’d set-up a mobile rock climbing wall, very similar to the one we’d seen at the Mindll Beach Markets in Darwin. The boys were onto to it straight away and the guy in charge was a really nice bloke who had a great rapport with all the kids. They had a blast and certainly got their money’s worth for $5! it did help that they were the

The Esplanade

first ones  on and I suppose other kids can see them on it having fun so it encourages more participation and then more $$$ too. We went back to the van for a shower and change then back to check out the markets, which were packed! Talked to one of the stall holders and they said probably ‘cos the V8 Supercars are on and there’s so many more people in town. There were lots of yummy smells and we all decided on some Massaman beef curry and rice for dinner and ate down at the waterfront! We wandered through the markets and to the boys credit, they didn’t try to hurry me along like they usually do! I love all the home-made stalls and bought some crostoli and got the boys

Relaxing at the Esplanade

and Joel to try it. They loved it – how could you not as it is a deep-fried Italian pastry, dusted with icing sugar. I haven’t made it in a very long time but thought I’ll definitely give it a crack once we get into a house with a kitchen and all my gadgets! A delicious memory of my Nonna and my dad! As quick as I would make it he would be eating it out of the jar.  I also found some yummy home-made jams and got my favorite, plum. The kids bought some glow-in-the-dark stuff and some mini gyrocopters which kept them amused for a while.
Next morning we met Claire and the kids atop Castle Hill where we watched some of the V8 Supercars racing around the tracks. I had the binoculars and a great view of the race-awesome! Unfortunately I am the only petrol-head in my family of boys (Wade is a bit) so they were bored after 20mins so we headed off for lunch at the Esplanade.  I was really tempted to get some tickets but no-one to really go with! The kids rip-sticked and played footy then back to Rob and Claire’s for lamb and steak wraps for dinner. They have just bought a beautiful, big house down along the river and will be moving into it soon. Good luck with all the packing guys:) Fond farewells (again) and back to pack down as tomorrow we are off to Mission Beach.
Till next time

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Bundy, Bargara, Agnes Water and Mooranbah June-July 11

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 2, 2011

Beachfront at Bargara CP

Fairymead House and Sugar Museum

Hi Everyone,
We left Hervey Bay this morning after a last stop at the supermarket and decided to stay out at Bargara as it is on the beach Bundaberg is inland a bit.  Also school holidays have started in Queensland but weather is cloudy and cool so we could be in with a chance. We stayed at the Absolute Ocean Front Tourist Park which is a small, old park but very nice. It’s right on the ocean front but there is no beach or sand just rocks, which doesn’t really matter as it cloudy and rainy so we’re not swimming anyway! We set up camp, the kids did some schoolwork, went for a walk then read for the rest of the arvo- a nice relaxing arvo. The CP owner has given us a key for the ladies amenities – he locks the door at nights so the ladies will feel safer, very old-fashioned but lovely.
Next day we stopped at the visitors centre in Bundaberg to see what we could do on a Sunday. We decided not to do the Bundaberg Distillery tour as we’re not rum drinkers and the kids would’ve

View of gardens from balcony

Stained glass ceiling inert

Post that boys interpreted

been too bored. Instead we went out to Fairymead House and Sugar Museum. The grounds/gardens were amazing and it was interesting to read about the history and current workings of the sugar cane industry. We have seen so many sugar cane farms and only a few were being burnt. The kids, and us, found the information to be very interesting – there was a short video on the history of sugar cane farming in the area which was short but informative. Then we walked through the grounds to the Botanical Gardens, passing through a lovely

Japanese garden waterway

Wade planking on train tracks

Let the train ride begin

Japanese garden. We followed the lagoons, full of water lilies and many different birds to Cafe 1928. We all had burgers for lunch sitting outside in the sun in the gardens. As it is Sunday, there is a sugar cane steam train that cruises around the park doing 2 full laps, so you can get a great view of the park- it was good fun too! There is also an aviation museum here called the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. It’s supposed to be very good with lots of interactive exhibits for the kids, but we’d not long been to the Australian War Memorial and the aviation museum in there was quite good so we decided to give it a miss.
Next stop was the Bundaberg Barrel, where we passed through a short history on the Bundaberg Brewing Co and the origins of the famous ginger beer! They have some interactive things for the kids to do about the origins and formation of the bubbles in the ginger beer. The 3D hologram at the end of the tour was bad and corny- even the kids couldn’t watch it. We stopped and had a tasting in the showroom – I’m not partial to ginger beer but quite liked the lemon, lime and bitters drink and the peach too! Wade is now a convert and tells me he likes ginger beer better than coke! Hallelujah! We selected a mixed 6pack and headed back to drink our new-found favourites.
Joel and Daniel went for a run and Wade a bike ride on the paths along the beaches back in Bargara. I had bit of peace and quiet for about 1/2 hr or so- it was



bliss! After dinner we watched another episode of our favorite series atm, called Veronica Mars. The weather in the morning was sunny but turned to rainy patches and quite cool in the afternoon.
A quick pack up and headed off but only have about 130kms to go today as we’re heading to Agnes Water /1770. We drove out to 1770 but the campground was full – it is school holidays after all! We drove back towards Agnes Water and decided to check out a caravan park near the beach. It’s called the Agnes Water Beach Caravan Parkand is very nice. It’s not a massive park but we lucked a site big enough for us and Joel booked us in for 3 nights. The only bugger of it was that we couldn’t quite park up properly on the site as the roads were very narrow and the campers opposite us had left their cars parked on the edge of the road. They’d gone for a bike ride so we had lunch and chatted to their parents who would’ve moved the cars for us but their son had taken the keys! Nearly 2 hrs later (and 2 wash loads later too) the riders came back so we could back the van onto

Kids being oh so cool at the beach

Agnes Water CP beach

Sunset surf

our site. After set up it was bliss. I can understand why this place is so popular, especially now in the school holidays. There is a great beach and surf beach right at the caravan park. The kids spent two days bodysurfing and I walked along the beach and found these amazingly colourful rocks.  There were reds, yellow and even blues and greens, which is probably from some copper leaching out somewhere. We just chilled out swimming, surfing(not me of course), drinking and eating basically for 2 days! We did go for a drive out to 1770 to check out the place but even parking was hard as it was so packed out – and we aren’t able to just squeeze into a lot of places now:) The beach at the caravan park was very safe

Colourful sand stone rock

and we had no dramas about letting Daniel and Wade go down by themselves for a while. The kids caught up on some schoolwork, Joel with car maintenance and me on the blog:) It’s a great little town with a servo, supermarket and some residential areas too. Reluctantly we left Agnes Waters (because it was so beautiful and relaxing) and headed north. We are traveling towards Mooranbah where we will meet up with Nigel, Anessa, Sachin and Samir; some very good friends from Karratha who have moved over here. We drove up the Bruce

Joel watching kids in the surf

Beach panorama

Highway to Rockhampton, then veered left and stopped overnight at a free camp, #321 in the Camps5 book at a little place called Duaringo. What a beautiful place to stop overnight or even for a couple of days. You can pull right up off the road and there is a lovely little park and lots of trees and shade towards the back of the area. There’s also plenty of room for big rigs like us too! There are toilets and for a gold coin donation, showers with hot water too! The kids had a ball playing in the park and generally having a good time running amok. Joel and I kicked back with a few bevvies and a couple of good books! We bought some crumbed, frozen fish from the servo/store, 2 pkts cost us $25, but figured a meal out for 4 would’ve cost so much more;) especially with the two horses we are feeding at the moment! There’s no power but we had the solar panels and you’re allowed to run

Boys working on rotissiere

Daniel and Samir

generators if need be.
We arrived at Mooranbah and it’s a lot like Karratha only smaller. We parked up at the Coal Country Caravan Parkand they had a nice, big site for us too. It’s not a tourist park or town for that matter, definitely a mining town for sure. The give away is lots of aluminum foil covering the windows, which is indicative of shift workers; that and the number of mining 4×4 and orange and fluoro workwear. Nigel and Anessa invited us over on sat arvo for drinks and a BBQ/webber meal of lamb and chicken. Anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to be a guest of Nigel and Anessa knows how good a cook they are and how very hospitable. We had a fantastic afternoon catching up for lost time! Nigel was trying out his new rotissierie invention for the BBQ. Unfortunately there was too much meat for the little engine so he resorted to plan b, the webber:) The food was absolutely delicious and the fried haloumi cheese was an enormous success! It is very addictive

Wade and Sachin

Iced chocolate = yummy

Anessa! Daniel and Wade played with Sachin and even had a play with Samir too. Steve Dury came over for dinner also, another ex-Karratha and ex-Burrup worker as well. Good hearing them swapping stories and joke over many beers and drinks. We even tried out Nigel’s new 3D glasses for his tv. Wade introduced Sachin to his Nintendo DS and he was hooked! Looks like Santa might be pressed for one of these i feel:) After a very late night and way too many drinks for the boys we headed back to the caravan. We met up for brekky at the ‘Workmans Club’ where the meals were enormous! There was so much bacon and eggs that even Wade and Daniel left a piece or two ‘cos they were so full! Or maybe that was to make room for their iced chocolates?!!
We headed or rather rolled back to Nigel’s for more socializing and couldn’t believe how quickly the 2 days had passed. It was so good to see and spend time with them and meet Samir for the first time too, as Anessa was still pregnant when we left Karratha last year. They all looked so well and

Blues Brothers???

we felt so lucky that they would share their house and themselves with us all weekend. It seemed like only yesterday we had last seen them, not a year! Amazingly wonderful friends, it was great to see you guys. After many farewells we headed back to the caravan to pack down and get some sleep. Tomorrow we are off to Airlie Beach.
Till next time

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Fraser Island and Hervey Bay – June 11

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 1, 2011

Lake MacKenzie Pana

Reversing onto ferry

Hi Everyone,
We are staying at the Big 4 Fraser Lodge Holiday Park in Hervey Bay. It’s not far to the beach and a great little cafe strip as well. The park will let us store our van, on power (so I don’t have to defrost the fridge=yeah!) while we tent it over on Fraser Island. We set up on our storage site so we didn’t have to move in the morning and then spent the arvo shopping for Fraser Island and making sure everything was packed and worked:) We have already got all our permits organised so we now just have to catch the ferry.
We caught the ferry from River Heads at 0900 which took about 50mins and landed in King Fisher Bay on Fraser Island. We had to reverse onto the ferry so we could drive off forward when we landed. We couldn’t believe the roads were all bitumen! Well the resort and “township” anyway. We

First of many sandy tracks

headed off down the sandy track which has a lot of rubber conveyor belt laid into the track and some areas have

Lake Wabby & Hammerstone Sandblow

log sleepers for traction, mostly on the entrance and exit to the resort as these roads get pretty hammered. Our first stop was Lake MacKenzie as we had been told that the buses, yes 4×4 buses, get into here around lunchtime and it can get pretty busy, with parking limited. There were only a couple of backpackers here when we got here so we managed to park easily. Wow, what a place. It has white, sandy beaches with clear, blue-azure water. The water is clear on the shore and progressively gets more blue towards the centre of the lake where it is deepest. It looks just like the photos we had seen of it, just stunningly gorgeous! It was a bit cold for swimming but we had a bit of a paddle and watched the English tourists splash around then jump out and sun bake to warm up! Two busloads turned up then so we took that as our cue to head off. It is a perched lake, which is where a saucer-shaped hard-pan of organic matter and debris forms in a depression between the sand dunes and then water, from rainfall mostly, collects and filters to the water table below it.
The tracks are quite sandy but they have lined some of the tracks with the conveyor belt rubber and boards on

Low tide at the wreck

some uphill sections. It makes it all very tame and a little disappointing when you’re expecting some serious 4WDriving. None-the-less I can see how it helps to preserve the tracks as the buses and huge amount of traffic

The Maheno Wreck

Looking thru the rust

would kill these tracks otherwise.
We drove to Lake Wabby Lookout parking area and took the very short walk to the actual lookout. It was a bit disappointing as the view from the lookout is obscured by the bush that has obviously grown since it was put it! Lake Wabby was very dark green and the Hammerstone sandblow amazing to see.
We then drove out towards the Easter Beaches, coming out at Cornwell’s Beach, just north of the Eurong Resort. We stopped on the beach and had lunch with one of the best views ever. Magnificent landscape, it’s quite breath-taking. We finished lunch and drove along the beach, passing several

Plane landing at wreck

Dundebarra Campsite

Boy's swing they made

beach camping sites. We stopped at “The Maheno”, which is a wreck of a passenger liner which also served as a hospital ship in WW1. It was sold for scrap metal and was being transported north when it came aground in a cyclone. Unrecoverable, it became a practice bombing target in WW2. It’s rusted and crumbling pretty badly but you’re still able to distinguish all the parts of the ship. There are some photos of the ship pre-wreckage in the general store at Cathedral Beach. We managed to be there on low tide so we could walk all the way around the

Perente = big fright on the track

Almost to the top

wreck. It was excellent and we saw lots of fish and crabs in the pools throughout the wreck. While we were walking around the wreck a small, light plane came and landed on the beach and a few tourists stepped-out in their city clothes:) There are signs up and down the beach warning of planes landing but we were still surprised to see it. I reckon the views would be magnificent from up there too!   We headed on up to the Dundaburra Campground, which is set back a bit from the beach in the bush. It’s only a few hundred meters to the beach and it protects you from the huge onshore winds. There are some brilliant sites and we were amazed to find flushing toilets and hot showers there too ($1 for 3mins) and they worked for most of the time! Set up camp and had yummy hamburgers for tea, then over with our chairs to the communal fire-place, where we met some great people. Daniel and Wade found an old piece of wood and used it and their rope (best $20 bucks ever spent) to make a

More sand dunes

It's all downhill from here

swing – pretty cool!
Next morning we decided to do the 5.5pm Wangul Sandblow Walk. We headed off clockwise through the bush section first where we almost trod on another perente, which scrambled up the nearest tree to get away from us. The track is mostly marked with a lot of uphill sections. We finally made it to the Sandblow and it was amazing, never seen anything like it before. Sand blows form when gaps are carved in the stabilizing vegetation or foredunes by the strong onshore winds. The sand is swept inland by the winds, slowly overtaking and smothering the land and vegetation in its path. We climbed up to the highest part of the blow and took in the view-absolutely stunning! Joel spotted some whales breaching and we just stood in awe of the moment. We thought there was a lot of rock in amongst the sand but it was actually black clay. The kids did some sand hill runs then we headed back to camp, grabbed the car and drove up along the beach, where we climbed to a higher point in

Indian Head

Northern view from Indian Head

Southern view from Indian Head

the dunes to watch the whales some more.  We drove up along the beach towards Indian Heads, parked up and made lunch, watching the waves crashing onto the beach. After lunch we hiked up to the top of Indian Heads and were greeted with gorgeous views both north and south of us. On the northern side we watched a pod of dolphins playing about and on then southern side, watched the whales breaching and waving their flippers. Magical! It’s a fantastic, sunny day which just makes the views all that more beautiful! We drove around IH

Whales breaching close to shore

Orchid Beach Store, Pub and Servo

View from Champagne pools lookout

and as the tide was low we managed to make it past the narrow strip of and head up the beach towards Orchid beach. We stopped in at the general store for an ice-cream and as there is a Telstra tower around here somewhere, we checked our messages, email and fb. On the way back we stopped in to look at the Waddy Pt campgrounds. They were similar to Dundaburra and they also had some beachfront sites with fireplaces too. Next stop on the track was the Champagne Pools, which the photos show to be pools with lots of bubbles, like champagne. Only problem was the sand has blown in so much over time that it is filling in the pools so there is less and less water.  We headed back to camp for early showers (5pm) as the nights are bloody cold, like 4-6 degrees! We chatted with Rick, Tracey, Shannon and Anna around the fire and also met a German family who unfortunately had damaged their brakes on their vehicle. Next

Champagne Pools

The Pinnacles

morning Rick and Shannon helped to patch up their brakes, well enough to get them safely to the ferry to Rainbow Beach. Wade found some new friends in a family of young boys, who are

Lake Allom

traveling around as well. He’s so excited to have some kids to play with and Daniel helped them all to build a monster swing too. It kept them occupied for a long time:) then we stole him away for an hour or so while we travelled back to Orchid Beach to change our return ferry times. The high tides would have made it near impossible to return when we originally planned so we’ll return a bit later and enjoy some more if the island:) We stopped in to see the Pinnacles and coloured sands too. Back at camp we lost Wade until dark then

Eastern Beach - just gorgeous

Red sands on Eastern Beach

showered and tea before settling into another good session around the fire! The kids watched a movie in the tent and we rugged up with boots, beanies, scarves and jackets for another night. It was so cold that Joel was sleeping fully clothed in jumper and trackies in his sleeping bag!
Next day we had pancakes for brekky, cooked lovingly and expertly by the boys! Yummo! Today we headed south and inland, across to the western side of FI. We stopped at the Knifeblade Sandblow Lookout, which was okay but not as spectacular as the one yesterday. next up was Allom Lake. The circuit walk was under water so we headed down to the boardwalk and steps to watch heaps of small turtles just swimming around. Wade could almost touch them from the end of the steps, which were under water as well.

Turtles at Lake Allom

Western Beach

Rugby boys

Joel tried to get them to kick AFL

Daniel chopping wood

Our campfire buddies

Our first wild dingo sighting

Eli Creek is so clear and fresh

Mouth of Eli Ck out to ocean


Back out on Wooralie Rd out to Wooralie Creek and the western side of FI. The wind was up a bit today so it’s not as smooth and still as it’s supposed to be apparently. We drove up the beach for a short way then parked up for lunch. After lunch the kids drew a makeshift rugby pitch in the sand and proceeded to tackle each other- very funny! After many laughs and just vegging out we headed back to the eastern beaches, stopping in at Cathedral Beach. It is a Big 4 park with lots of backpackers but we prefer where we are, and of course our campfire friends too:) who are great company. We headed back to camp and Wade was already out the door to play with his friends before we’d even come to a stop! Daniel and Joel were splitting logs for the fire as Rick, Tracey, Shannon and Anna and us were wanting coals to cook on tonight so they thought they’d get an early start. The others came back later than we thought and told us about their adventures for the day with a few beers around the fire. Seems they’d found some creek crossings that we’re a bit deep and Shannon had drowned his

Jetty at KingFisher Bay

Jetty cafe at Kingfisher Bay

Kingfisher Bay panorama low tide

electrics so was driving back in the dark, with Rick behind him with his lights on full beam to help light the way:) Another great campfire night but couldn’t be bothered cooking so had cheese and bikkies and the kids tinned spaghetti and baked beans.
Had a relaxing morning walking down the beach and reading in the sun then an early lunch and packed up camp. We said our goodbyes to our campfire buddies, swapping numbers, email and having a photo or two. We headed off down the beach and saw our first wild dingo. We had been driving everyday whilst over here and this is the first time we had seen one. A lot of the literature

Jetty panorama

and even pieces we’ve seen on the tv led us to believe they were rampant on the island, but we didn’t find this to be true. We stopped for a look at Eli Creek, which is a fantastic little freshwater creek that flows out to a pool then into the sea. There’s a boardwalk that you can walk along back into the bush/rainforest and at the end of it you can enter the creek and walk back along it or even float down on a tube. Wade and I got in and walked back; it was cool but so clear we could see the fish swimming around us. When

Boys hamming it up at the pier

Urangan Pier - Hervey Bay

we got out we turned around and saw a huge eel swimming right near the last step we’d just got up onto.Eeeuuuwwww! It was time to head back to KingFisher Bay so we wouldn’t miss the ferry. We

Sunset clouds

arrived early so we took a look around the bay area. All the roads are bitumen and there’s some lovely places to come and sty if you don’t want to camp! There’s even land/blocks for sale over here – it’d be a nice place for a holiday shack if we lived on the east coast! We drove down and parked in the queue for the ferry. I walked down the jetty taking some photos of the awesome sunset and beach shots too. We boarded just before the actual sun set so we could take photos of the sun setting on the water. Not a patch on a Cable Beach or 80 Mile sunset but still quite pretty. It was an easy trip back on the ferry and we were back in the caravan park by about 6:30pm. It’s still amazing to watch our GPS as it shows us doing the ferry crossing and still tracking us. Our storage site was next door to an ensuite site so we paid a bit extra and had the use of the ensuite- a little bit of luxury. After a long, hot shower we went out for dinner at the Sailing Club. It had really nice meals and a lovely view of the harbour lights. We didn’t hang around after dinner as we are all pretty bushed and ready for bed. We spent the next few days doing washing, cleaning and schoolwork – all the boring but

So sweet and innocent?

GPS of ferry crossing

necessary stuff! I managed to get a good massage for my back and hip which does not seem to like extended periods of sitting in the car. Bit unfortunate that:) We finished off our final night with a delicious meal at ‘The Wild Lotus’. Meals were superb as was the service; we would definitely recommend them. The kids rode down along the foreshore to the Jetty.  Wade came back with me later for some sunset shots off the jetty too. It used to be used for loading and transporting of sugar, coal and timber by boat a long time ago.
Packing down and heading off to Bundy and Bagara tomorrow.
Till next time

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Surfing, Rides and Rainforest – May/June 11

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on September 1, 2011

Wade hanging Ten

Oops. maybe surfing's not for me

Hi Everyone,
We arrived in Ballina on 23 May and are staying at the Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park. We have had some sunshine for the arvo but it turned out to be overcast and rainy for the next 3 days! We went to the movies to watch “Paul”- a bit of language but very, very funny.
Wade has been asking to have some surfing lessons for the last few weeks so Joel has organized to have one for his actual birthday. We woke to rain and clouds and not a really a great day but off we go anyway! It was an omen and I should have stayed in bed!!! We ended up following the instructor to Lennox Heads, where we were fitted out with wetsuits and a board, then down to the beach we went. The kids got up straight away and Joel too, (of course as he’s a surfer from way back) but I kept falling off, just not getting my feet forward in time. Wade was having an absolute blast and although Joel’s board was just too big for him to enjoy himself, he borrowed Dan’s for a while and managed to have a bit of fun. Unfortunately I fell off (again) in the shallows and the next wave grabbed the board and it hit me, sideways, full on in the throat! I lost my breath and voice and struggled to take my board out and was in a boat-load of pain too! After about 15 mins

Daniel Hanging Ten

and a litre of frozen water, I got back into the water with no-one the wiser, until the instructor heard my non-voice and freaked out. He wouldn’t let me get back on the board and was quite concerned. The lessons

Leaving Ballina, of course it's sunny NOW!

were nearly finished and afterwards I got Joel to drop me at the Ballina ER just to make sure things were okay as I still had no voice and it was very painful too! They put a neck brace on me straight away, in case I had fractured my larynx and then ambulances me over to Lismore ER for a CT scan. The ambos were fabulous as was the staff at both ERs. 5hrs later the CT was clear for fractures and apparently my voice would return, but could take up to 3 weeks! Yep I’m hearing it all!! I just felt so bad as it was Wade’s actual birthday and we couldn’t go out for tea as planned, although he did get Maccas for tea in Lismore while I waited in the ER:) We finally got back to the caravan about 9:30pm- a very long day. Next day it was still raining cats and dogs so we just vegged out. The next day we were leaving and the sun came out again, blue skies, no clouds – go figure! The guys who ran the surf school rang up to make sure I was okay which was very nice of

Beach view at CP

Resident Curlews in the park


Joel and Dan on Skycoaster B4 lift-off!

Off to the GC and staying at the same Broadwater Tourist Park we were at last time. It’s a lovely park, right on the beach. It has a few resident curlews which make a god-awful racket especially in the wee small hours of the morning.  The sound is, as Daniel quite succinctly put it, like little children being murdered! Not quite sure how he tests that theory but he’s not far off the mark! Noisy bloody critters! We caught up with Stuart and Di again for dinner and a gas bag always a pleasure seeing you guys:) -although Jersey Shore still won’t make our top 10 list no matter how much you make us watch it:))) We went back to ‘Wet’n’Wild’ where Dan and Joel went on a new ride, called Skycoaster. They were dressed in a harness each then attached to a wire which took them up, horizontally, to the top of a pole about 90ft high. Dan pulled the rope, which sent them free-falling like a huge swing. OMG! What a ride! The kids both went back onto the flo-rida as well, a wave-surf machine that they loved.

Daniel on flo-rider

Wade on flo-rider

Penguins-they are so big and beautiful

Wade feeding the rays


Viking's revenge-cool

Seaviper - bye boys!

Dan and Wade on climbing maze.

Pretty high up

And so the war began......

Tambourine Skywalk


We put in another visit to SeaWorld too – the kids and Joel had a ball in the “Kids Cove” section, on the pirate ships with the water cannons, with other parents and children competing to see who would be the wettest! It’s amazing that we have been back 3-4 times and each time we find more things to see and do! The King Penguins were huge and awesome up close. Wade had a ball feeding some sting rays as well. Joel and the boys went on the Viking’s Revenge; i didn’t go on ‘cos i always scream and i still had a really croaky voice from my surfing encounter so better not to strain it:) There is this amazing climbing area for the kids and adults. It goes up about 3 or 4 levels and you are in a harness and attached to the rope network.  Then it’s just climb and walk around the ropes, past the poles. The kids had a ball! You wouldn’t want to be scared of heights that’s for sure!
We went to Banora Point to catch up with a woman, called Di, who I went to Uni with. It was wonderful to catch up with her and see what she’s been up to!

We took a drive up through the hills behind the Gold Coast and went to Mt Tambourine. What a gorgeous place.

On our way

Everything is so green

Now this is somewhere I could live and as we drive up into the mountains we see heaps of places for sale. Mmmmmmm………  First stop was the Skywalk. It’s a walk that starts at the

Joel's new friend

cafe/entrance from an elevated bridge which takes you straight out into the rainforest canopy.  It’s sunny today but there’s no chance of sunburn with this, thick forest. There’s a free-standing cantilever which sits about 30m off the ground and has the most beautiful views of the rainforest. The path then winds its way through the tree canopy to the forest floor and you can see just how big some of these trees are when you are looking up at them! We saw

Giant Strangler Fig tree

Joel is a dwarf

Curtis Falls

some of the strangler fig trees here, which we thought we’re huge at the time but we’ve since seen much bigger ones too. They start off as an epiphyte (living without soil) in the tree top of another tree and they send their roots downwards and they grow upwards to the sun.  They in-effect grow around and strangle the host tree, killing the host tree and creating a huge hollow in the tree. They are fascinating things to look at!

We stopped for lunch then went for a walk in the Tambourine National Park. We did a 2.6km walk down and up lots of rainforest gullies and were superbly rewarded with the Curtis Falls. They were very pretty but it’s a bit cool to swim. We saw some absolutely huge trees in this forest, some Strangler Figs, some just big trees! I took a photo of Joel between two of these trees that absolutely dwarfed him. Amazing! There are a few other walks with falls and other touristy things in and around the township that look quite good too but we headed back to the van and another walk/run/bikeride along the foreshore.


Golden Beach near Caloundra

View back towards Noosa

We packed up and left the Gold Coast and headed up to the Sunshine Coast, specifically Caloundra. We stayed at the Golden Beach Holiday Park which was a nice little park, small and very busy with all the grey nomads:)  We caught up with the Mees’ who have moved over here from Karratha. Wade was so excited to be catching up with Jaidyn and it was really great to catch up and swap stories of our travels as they have not long finished a big trip around Europe. We were so busy chatting that I forgot to get any photos of the kids:( We had a drive around Pelican Waters and were quite tempted to buy some land around here on the canals. They have magnificent views and right on the water. We had only one, nice sunny day here then the rest were all overcast and rainy. We visited the Caloundra RSL for my birthday dinner- what a fantastic place! We ate in one of the restaurants then the kids went downstairs to the kids room, which was like a huge arcade, only they didn’t have to pay for all the games! They thought they we’re in heaven as did Joel and I! We sat upstairs, listened to the band and I had a few cocktails while the kids played downstairs – win-win I’d say! All in all a great night.
Next stop was Tewantin, near Noosa. We stayed at the Noosa Caravan Park which was actually out of Noosa and

Noosa Nat Park coast walk

in Tewantin.  We had planned on catching up with schoolwork and the blog on-line but the park is in a really bad spot for phone service, so we’ll have to wait.  We think that might be a criteria we use before booking into a park from now on….check the phone outside the park and if we have service, it’s a goer!:)

Letting down the tyres b4 beach driving

Sandy Cape - nice spot for lunch

The weather has been patchy rain and sunshine on-and-off for a few days so we thought we’d make the most of the sun/clouds and parked out near the Noosa Surf Club and walked out to the Noosa National Park. There’s a few good walks to do and we took the one out along the coast. We had some brilliant views, the rain stayed away and we even got some sunshine too! This coastline reminds me of Tassie; it’s very beautiful. We stopped in at the Laguna Lookout in town for a view over the sea – not bad, lots of overgrowth on the trees so hard to see out too far. Next day it was raining cats and dogs again so we opted for a movie. The queue at the cinema was out the door so I guess it was a popular choice for such shitty weather. We saw X-men, 1st Class- awesome film, loved it.

Sandy Cape- inland

Rainbow Beach

Next day the rain had stopped for a while so we got a permit and drove up to North Shore and Rainbow Beach. You can get the permits from the caravan park or there is a QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services) office about 200m up the road towards the ferry that takes you over to Sandy Cape.  Lots of beach driving and gorgeous views and then we headed inland as the tide was too high to come in at the beach at Rainbow Beach. The tracks are pretty good and there’s a bit of camping along the beach and just into the bush as well. Rainbow Beach is a nice, little town and I can see why it’d be a top little tourist spot. We stopped at the lookout and park for a walk and wander around and an ice-cream for the kids. We drove along the back roads, back to Tewantin and saw some very beautiful country here. It was getting quite late and dark so we followed some locals who seemed to know the way through these back roads as some of the turns didn’t have any signs! The GPS was pretty good though and we never got lost.
Next day we visited the QPWS Office and got all our island permits and camping permits for Fraser Island. We also arranged the ferry tickets while we were there; the staff we very helpful and friendly and now it’s all organized for Fraser Island – yeah!
We caught up with the Websters at the Noosa Surf Club for drinks. The kids had a ball catching up and played down at the beach until it was dark. We stayed for dinner and some more drinks and had to drag the kids away from the beach to go home – it was lovely catching up again with you guys:)
Early start tomorrow as we’re heading to Hervey Bay.
Till next time

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