Friday, December 25, 2015

Nana Glen - Bulahdelah

Followed the Clarence River upstream and the first stop is Grafton for fuel. No option gotta stop for that! Woolies and Coles are here. To top up provisions I will need to fight the crowds but can't find the motivation. Reckon I can make do.

Decision time: Pacific Hwy or Orara Way? Done the A1 to death so it's Orara Way and a photo op with a Golden Dog. As big things go I've seen worse. Just can't recall where :)

Raining. Not the best driving conditions on a minor hwy or should that be way? Begs the question: Is a "way" more minor than a minor hwy?

Called it a day about lunch time and pulled into the polocrosse grounds for the night at Nana Glen. Rained most of the night. On to Coffs Harbour in the morning driving in drizzle. Drizzle or rain most of the day. Stopped for the night at Kendall showgrounds, nothing special but cheap: they charge per head and that suits me.

Just a short drive to the next camp spot down the road at Bulahdelah.

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The Golden Dog Hotel Glenreagh

Bulahdelah camp spot
Sharing morning tea

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


The free camps are near empty. Not a lot of vans on the road. The grey nomads must be either at home with the grandkids or already set up in a beach-side caravan park somewhere.

Stopped on the banks of the Richmond River at a free camp south of Ballina, Dungarubba boat ramp. Just me and one other here.

Next day drove to Maclean expecting to stay the night in the showgrounds but noticed the sugar cane trucks using the bridge. Last time here they ran throughout the night crossing the timber bridge nearby, noisy. Decided to move on and try somewhere new. Crossed said "noisy bridge" onto Woodford Island, the biggest inland island in Australia, then on the other side took the ferry across the Clarence River to Lawrence.

Lawrence Tavern: put that in your book of good spots to stay. The publicans John and Sally are friendly and have good meals and cold beer and the back yard is level and shady with nice grass. Nothing more required for me at the end of the day.

By dawn's early light

Lawrence Tavern

Bluff Pt Ferry, across the Clarence at Lawrence

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cotton Tree - Mt Warning

Well the time comes to move on. Been here for a good long while. On nodding terms with lots of the locals. Not any more.

Had a last paddle on the Maroochy River. I will miss that let me tell you, especially the Slack Boarding (Sit On SUPping) with my paddle buddy.

First-up in the 'Great Southern Tour 2016' is to climb Mt Warning.

Mt Warning and the Wollumbin National Park is close to the border of NSW and Qld and inland from Byron Bay and because of it's 1146m hight is the first bit of Australia to feel the sun's rays each morning. I've detoured to places for far more tenuous reasons than that.

So a quick look at the acute angle of the base car park tells me I won't get a good nights sleep here, so its down the hill 2km and about 200m vertically to a nice road side picnic spot complete with babbling brook. Yep this will do for the tonight. About 3am I start hearing vehicles labouring up the hill to the base car park - that'll be the very keen sunrise hikers. I'm tempted but have decided it's more of a photo op on the way up rather than just the one shot at the top. So I will start about 5am.

First mistake: deciding to walk to the base car park rather than drive. My thought was its only 2km, yes a steep gradient, but hey just 2km. Turns out the walk up to the car park was not the issue it was the walk back down, after doing the mountain.

Second mistake: was to go on a day when the cloud cover was below 1000m. I get to the top and the temp drops by about 20deg, or felt like it, and its a white out.

There is lots of information on-line about the climb but here are some of my thoughts: Its a good hike but be aware its very long and steep and the last 400m is as the sign says at the base "tough". When reaching the chain I didn't have a lot left in the energy department. Six km and about 900m vertical, then this chain. No photo shows you the true angle -it was getting close to vertical. Anyway, did it. But the worst was yet to come, the trip down. Don't think I was the first to wonder what a helicopter ride would cost? Besides the aggravation from the rescue people when they find I didn't break my leg. Hmm how much pain is associated with a broken leg anyway?

The best thing is it has put me in exercise credit for a bit. And I think I got some good photos, be it only below the cloud cover.

First view of the summit,
walking to the base car park

Steps or gibbers mostly good footing.

Looking East.

The last shot before the white-out

The dreaded chain. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mt Ninderry - Sunshine Coast

Mt Ninderry. Off early 6:30am, traffic light but steady. Can see our destination, cos it's standing a couple of hundred meters above the surrounding terrain, but which road will get us to the base. Turns out to be pretty well signposted.

A good little calf burner I've read on-line. Turns out to be true. Start with a well defined track, increase the gradient to steep, add a good pinch of gibbers, sprinkle with early morning dew and yep my calves are burning. The track levels out as we get close to the summit then provides some excellent viewing areas atop of large rock outcrops. A well used phase comes to mind: "It was worth the effort".

Looking towards Maroochydore.

Looking towards Mt Coolum; out there somewhere in the mist.
Looking south-west.

The gibber bit.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Slackboarding at Cotton Tree

So Robyn was recently in Hawaii and came back with a photo of this local guy riding his SUP (stand-up paddle-board) sitting in a garden chair. Not being one to get in the water with the bull sharks, she asks "Would that be hard?".

Well that's all it took to start a new craze here in Cotton Tree. Expecting it to take-off, it's fun, relaxing and it still works the core. 

Hayley nails it.
Anybody could do it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Queensland - Beautiful one night storms the next

Sunny-coast in November -you've got to expect the storms. So far we have mostly seen the edge of the major thunderstorms. Might just get away without replacing the MH roof this year.

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Just me and a pelican in the park tonight.

Thunderstorms and lightning, this one missed us, phew!

Friday, November 27, 2015

You have mail.

If buildings define a town, the style, the period, the architecture. We are talking the older ones not modern boring boxes built nowadays. Buildings with style and flair. Public buildings, post offices, town halls, libraries and pubs. That's what makes a town memorable and discernible from the next one. Well for me anyway.

But what defines a street within a town? Street art? Mm maybe? Check out these letterboxes sitting proud out front of their houses, in their streets.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mt Coolum.

It's a 20min drive from Cotton Tree to Mt Coolum, before seven in the morning it's smooth and uneventful. Car park is all but full, one spot for me to park, now that's nice; don't want to have to walk too far to get to the walk.

Mt Coolum is a circular volcanic dome a bit over 200m high. It's a very popular hike, especially after the Parks people fixed the track with lots of steps and rock base to stop erosion. This morning it's busy, I've seen far worse, and it's already hot in the sun but there is a cool breeze from time to time. Being as close as it is from Cotton Tree I've done this hike quite a few times and am always looking to improve on my best time. Hikers are evenly spread along the track, mostly females, mostly young, and no kids, that's a bonus. I overtake a few. No one overtakes me, phew!

The view from the summit is always good. Sometimes you get to see whales swimming south just a few kms off shore, but not this morning. Weathers not the best for a photo, but at least it's not blowing a gale.

Mt Coolum in the distance as seen from out front of my MH.

No whale spotting this morning.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cotton Tree CP

Beautiful one day, perfect the next. Well only if you discount the shitty, windy, wet days in between.

In my travels around Oz I have not found a place I'd rather be, if I had to be where all the services are. Mind you there is still lots of appeal for the quiet spot by a river somewhere. But generally you can't live there full time without having to get in a motor vehicle to get in the essentials. Here at Cotton Tree you can put the car away and use shanks pony.

Beautiful one day...

Shitty the next!

Looks good but that's a 30kph wind he's riding on.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Street Party.

Looks to me like the shopping trolleys had a street party last night. You'd think by now the supermarket would be a wake up to their midnight antics and have them securely locked away each night. Well not last night. These two obviously had too much fun and got themselves hung out to dry.

Oh the joys of the urban dweller!

The quiz for this week: How many shopping trolleys are there in the world?

260 million less two?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Glass House Mountains - Mt Ngungun

Mt Ngungun.

Timing not that bad, an early start and a drive to Glass House Mountains, arriving before the hordes. Only a few in front of me this morning, about 5 in the car park on Fullertons Rd.

Mt Ngungun is an easy hike on a good track with stairs where required. The last bit, the summit, is across a rocky outcrop that is taken more slowly. But all in all an easy outing taking about 30 mins up and 20 down. Just a few photos from me as there is heaps of stuff on-line -others have already done a more complete job of describing the hike, so I won't.

My advise: get there early as I passed heaps of people on the way down and the car park was full. Mind you it was school holidays.

The last bit.

Looking back from the top.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Stopped for the night at Wooroolin and then Murgon before lobbing for a freeloader night with Chook and Deb at Eerwah ginger farm. Interesting checking out a working farm, doing both cattle and ginger, and the complications of growing ginger with the quarantine requirements to protect the crop and soil from contamination. These guys, in Eerwah near Gympie Queensland, are the biggest ginger growers in the world!

Then on to Maroochydore. Could be here, or here abouts, for a bit. Always something happening here. This weekend it's offshore powerboat races.

and they say horse racing is the sport of kings...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jandowae Dam.

Chinchilla to Jandowae.

Jandowae is famous for selling 1000 blocks of land in town for just one dollar each, to arrest the declining population back in 2001.

Every now and then, travelling this great land, I'm fortunate to come across some really nice camp spots. Not always secluded in the bush, by a river, blah, blah, blah, but just a nice spot.

Today I think Jandowae Dam is one of them. Admittedly good weather is important, as is P & Q, grass no dust, shady but sunny spots, warm but not hot, no wind but light breezes, water views but no mosquitoes, bitumen road access but no traffic, broadcast radio, mobile telephone and internet access: are you getting the picture? Not easy to find! Or should I say getting harder to find. And then I do something silly and tell you all about it. But hey that's OK, just don't come on the day when I'm here ;)

The township of Chinchilla was a bit of a surprise as well, when looking for provisions this morning. I have previously driven through Chinchilla but never stopped or ventured off the Warrego Hwy to explore the town. Chinchilla has a lovely tree lined main shopping street, off the highway as I think all should always be, and most everything appears to be available. All the stuff I needed anyway. Good camp options as well, close to town, like Chinchilla Lake and Round Water Hole and a bit farther out, Jandowae Dam.

Jandowae Dam - sunset.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Isla Gorge NP to Chinchilla

Headed south to Theodore, decision time: Cracow and on to the Burnett Hwy or Isla Gorge NP via the Leichhardt Hwy? Isla Gorge wins out, somewhere new always has special attraction. It's only small and has just a few camp sites, but its quiet and very picturesque.

Then on down the Leichhardt Hwy to Condamine, Caliguel Lagoon and Meandarra. Did a service on the MH, grease and oil change, then watched the Storm defeat the Roosters in the first game of the NRL finals.

TV reception needs to be good for the next couple of days, more games this weekend, Saturday night and Sunday. Chinchilla Lake fits the bill nicely.

Isla Gorge NP - The view from the bluff.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Baralaba Campdraft

The best shots for the weekend:

One from a drone, thanks Alistair. And one from the fence, nearly wearing the horse and rider.  

The 'Camp'.

Getting a bit too close!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Baralaba - Cows with Guns

Moved from the river, with no TV reception, to the show grounds for a night to watch Thursday's NRL game, Broncos v Storm. Nice to see the Storm coming good at the business end of the season.

Lots of activity next day, here at the show grounds, getting ready for a campdraft over the weekend. So decided to stay for a bit. 1200 cows and a 1000 runs, its going to be a big weekend.

     Horses and riders, ready to suppress any uprisings.

Cows with guns.

Fat and docile, big and dumb
They look so stupid
They aren't much fun
Cows aren't fun

They eat to grow
Grow to die
Die to be at
At the hamburger fry
Cows well done


He mooed we must fight
Escape or we'll die
Cows gathered around
'Cause the steaks were so high
Bad cow pun


But on the horizon
Surrounding the shoppers
Came the deafening roar
Of chickens in choppers

We will fight for bovine freedom
And hold our large heads high
We will run free with the Buffalo, or die
Cows with guns

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bouldercombe, Dululu and Baralaba.

Picture this: A small town or more like a small community just 25km south west of Rockhampton, but far enough away to be quiet, on a quiet road with just a pub, a paddock beside, and park across the street. That's Bouldercombe. The pub usually have or should I say, the last time I was there was on a Sunday, had a band happening in the beer garden, nice. But not this time. Anyway camped in the paddock next door and had a quiet night.

Next night Dululu just 60km or so down the road via Gracemere and the supermarket for provisions. Again a paddock in a one pub town.

Then Baralaba on the Dawson River. It's a one pub town as well with general store and a few businesses that support the local community. The town also depends, to some degree, on the local Cockatoo Coal mine.

Back in May this year the coal miner axed 40 jobs and for small town like Baralaba that hurts. The current share price of Cockatoo Coal is 0.001, that's a long way from the high point of 0.182 back in May 2008. No wonder they call these stocks 'penny-dreadfuls'. There's only one place below 0.001.

The town provides a beautiful free camping area on the banks of the Dawson River and it's just a short walk to the main street. Hard not to stay a couple of days, so peaceful.

Baralaba - Dawson River free camp.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Middlemount and Dingo.

Stopped off at Middlemount on the way down the Fitzroy Dev Hwy, mainly to get some supplies from the IGA in town. It's expensive!

Interesting: I wonder if all mining towns use the same town plan. The place looked the same at Glenden and I managed to drive directly to the shopping precinct, without directions or signs. About 3000 people, mostly mining employees, live and work here.

Took the opportunity to go for a walk up the "Blue Mountains", a small range close to town used for recreation and communications towers. It provides a good view of the German Creek coal mine toward the west. This mine ships 11 million tonnes of Australia, by rail to the coast then overseas, every year.

Back down for lunch in the town park, then farther south on the Fitzroy Dev Hwy to Dingo on the Capricorn Hwy.

At Dingo fuelled up the MH at the Caltex servo and set up around the back for the night. About 6pm a storm front came howling through kicking up a huge dust cloud before a heavy downpour settled it all again. Impressive lightning show and it rained all night. "Won't go astray" was the rather dry reaction from a local, "been a long time since it rained here".

German Creek Mine - hope they put the dirt back when they finish..

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nebo and Elphinstone Townships.

The other day whilst driving to Elphinstone Lake, and the free camp by the lake, my GPS was directing me to roads and streets that just weren't there. And the map on the screen was showing a grid of streets that weren't there. Later I found the reason whilst reading the signs along the Nebo Creek tourist walk.

A quote from the sign:
"Elphinstone was established as a town back in 1859, it flourished for a short time then gradually declined. Nothing of the town remains today." Well that's certainly true, other than a grid on my GPS, that is!

Could that be the forecast for some of today's outback towns, currently in decline? Back then they loaded the buildings on a dray and took them away to make or add to a town some place else. Lots of pub buildings had multiple locations before they found their final resting place: aka Linville Hotel.

Nebo was a surprise. I was expecting a pub and not much more. Instead I found a large residential town (mostly mining accommodation) with a pub and not much more. Well other than the biggest under cover rodeo stadium I've ever seen. Apparently this is the biggest rodeo, with the most prize money, and held in May every year. There is also a camp draft arena within the grounds. It's way more upmarket than the Eureka Creek facility out near Dimbulah on the Burke Dev Road in FNQ.

Asking about provisions and general shopping a local told me they drive to Mackay for other than milk, bread and the like. That's about 200km return each time. Hmm, the cost of living in the country!

Stayed the night in the show grounds, quiet, spacious, shady, power, water, and hot showers, all for free, nice. No caretaker, no honesty box, no problem...
                                       click an image to enlarge
Nebo Hotel - a great example of a Queensland Pub.

Elphinstone history.

Nebo Rodeo Stadium.

And the Camp Draft facility.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Elphinstone Lake.

The Bowen Coal Basin extends about 500km, from Collinsville at it's north to Theodore and Rolleston in the south in a near vertical key hole sort of shape.

Driving south to Elphinstone Lake, you pass one coal mine after another, and for the most part following the railway line that carries the coal to the coast, at Bowen. The road is not overly good or bad, some sections narrow, undulating and rolling in others, but sealed all the way.

A very popular free camp is located on the banks of the Elphinstone Lake and affords views of the lake and the rocky outcrops around. It's close to the road but the traffic is light. It's not unusual to find lots of caravans and RVs here during the winter months, about 60/night atm. It's a big space and there is plenty of room to move. The lake has lots of water birds and the fishing is supposedly good. The sunrise each morning is spectacular!

Expected to stay one night or maybe two but after three I'm running out of fresh food provisions.

The Plan: spend most of the day here then drive to Nebo for the night and have a meal at the pub. The google lady, inside my phone, says its 63km.

                                           click an image to enlarge
The Bowen Coal Basin.


The view from the the rocky outcrop.

The view from my SUP on the lake.