October/November 2012: Travelling the Murray

Well that’s the end of another great trip of about 6,000 klm.  We averaged about 23 lph on this trip, with a 3.5 ton van and kayak on top of the car.  Which I can’t say the Nose Cone actually improved at all.  I found I got best fuel economy doing about 80-85 kph in 4th gear, which is supposedly a direct drive in the auto.  But I always sit around 100 kph on the highways to avoid holding up the trucks anyway.
This trip turned out to be a food and wine trail as you can most likely tell from the notes.  But what can I say, it was most enjoyable.  There are numerous camps along the Murray that are free and most have no facilities.  The more popular ones that do are now charging a small fee or are looking to introduce one soon.  Some have had to do it to get rid of the ferals who set up camp and stay for long periods, ruining it for the rest of us who travel this great country.  But I for one am happy to pay a small fee for some basic facilities and the maintenance of them.
We travelled the River Murray from Goolwa to Tocumwal and left the river from that point.  We had intended to travel all the way to the mountains, but this will have to be another time.  We loved Tocumwal so much, we may return on a more permanent basis one day.  Who knows?  Happy travels and stay safe.

Friday 16 November – Somerville’s to Home (Petrie)
Well this is it, the final day of our journey, how sad is that?  Of course we had to call via Vincenzo’s who have a great range of Italian foods, cheeses, olives, sauces etc. which we stocked up on for later of course.  While there, we ran in to Deb’s cousin Warren and his wife Anna who were returning from Tenterfield after playing golf for a couple of days.  We told them about Sutton’s Apple Farm across the highway from where we were.  They happen to make the best apple pie and spiced home made ice-cream in the world.  If you don’t believe me, try it!  We also bought two cases of their apple & ginger juice which is also pretty special.  It was then off and down the range, when we got a call from Rod and Mavis who were dropping in to see Rob and Jewel at Walloon and asked us to join them as they were heading off to Melbourne from here.  It was great to catch up with them all as we had a great chat.  Then it was the horrible part of the trip, back through Brisbane traffic to home.  It was 35 degrees when we left and the same today on return.

Thursday 15 November – Somerville’s
Headed out early to do the usual winery tour but unfortunately most were closed during the week these days.  We did find one called Whiskey Gully which was quite nice and the lady of the house was very informative and went to great lengths to explain the grapes, their origins and how they are blended.  We then went on to a newly opened craft beer house close to Stanthorpe itself.  This is a fantastic venue with cabins and a large timber hall.  You can do beer tastings here for a small fee and we enjoyed another wonderful meal on the verandah.
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Wednesday 14 November – Pindari Dam to Somerville’s Valley Tourist Park at Storm King Dam at Stanthorpe
Took the dirt  back roads out of Pindari Dam for something different.  I’ve got to say that most of the dirt roads are in better condition than most of the bitumen roads elsewhere with their lumps, bumps & patchwork.  Anyway it was a nice drive through sheep and cattle farm land.  We stopped at Camps 6 NSW239 Bonshaw Weir to check it out.  It didn’t have any toilets as stated in the book, but it was a nice spot just the same.  We then headed up through Texas and across to Stanthorpe and out to Storm King Dam.  This is a great camp ground with huge sites and fire pits on each one.  The amenities are spotless and the dam itself was quite full.  Good for boating and kayaking if you so desire.
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Tuesday 13 November – Bingara to Pindari Dam (27klms east of Ashford NSW)
Filled our water tanks at the show grounds before leaving as this is the hardest thing to come by when travelling in free camps.  We had another pleasant drive up through Inverell and Ashford.  We then headed out towards Pindari Dam via Wells Crossing.  The Wells Crossing  camp is located on a high bank above the quite substantial Severn river.  A very nice camp, with drop toilets and picnic tables amongst open eucalypt forest.  The only problem was, it was crowded.  Which is surprising as Bingara had very few campers for some reason.  We continued on out to the dam and after ignoring all the signs saying no large vans, we found a lovely spot out on a point and no-one else camped there.  With a bit of careful manoeuvring I’m sure you could get into several of the sites here without too much trouble.  It’s about 28 degrees today, so the cool breeze coming off the lake is most welcome and the view is fantastic.
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Sunday 11 & Monday 12 November – Bingara
Kayaking, relaxing & short walks.  That’s about it.  Nothing too strenuous, after all, we are starting to wind down our holiday a bit.  I almost forgot to mention the delicious apple turnovers from the Bingara Bakery, they are to die for!
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Saturday 10November – Eumungerie to Camps 6 NSW369 Gwydir River Camps (Bingara)
A pleasant drive up through Narrabri and over the range to Bingara once again.  We found a great spot on the river only about 500 metres from town this time.  Ahhhhhhhh the serenity, with birds chirping and ducks floating by, you don’t get better than this for a free camp.
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Friday 9 November – Town Beach (Tocumwal) to Camps 6 NSW931 Eumungerie Recreation Reserve
Well that’s it for the Murray this trip, as we only have a week and a bit before our life of leisure comes to an end.  So we’re heading back via Bingara NSW for a few days, which is another place I could live, funny enough.  We had planned to stay at Camps 6 NSW933 Terramungamine Reserve (North of Dubbo) but it was packed and a bunch of not so sober yobbos were yelling out when we pulled in.  So we continued on to Eumungerie and found the old show grounds which only costs $5 per night unpowered and another $5 if you want power.  There was only us and a motor home there at the time so it was nice and quiet.  The people in the motor home told us it was roast night at the pub so how could we say no.  It turned out to be a good night with good company, friendly country hospitality and a home style roast pork and vegies meal for just  $10.  Happy days!
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Tuesday 6 to Thursday 8 November – Town Beach
Spent several days relaxing with walks into town, a visit to the excellent museum (with a few of Australia’s first caravans ever built), kayaking upstream against the current then coasting down again and of course baking scones & having some great happy hours.  On Thursday night we bought pizzas from The Farmers Arms Hotel and each slice was a meal with toppings piled on, great value!  I have a number of locations that I state “I could live here” and this is one of them.  We have travelled through many towns and you only get this feeling in a few of them.  I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but they seem alive, welcoming and fairly pleasant to look at.  The only bad thing is it’s not in Queensland.
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Monday 5 November – Town Beach
Running repairs today after ham and eggs on the BBQ and billy tea on the fire.  Followed this up with toast on the coals with honey. Mmmmmmmm!!!  Spent quite some time fitting a new fan onto the back of the van fridge with Geoff’s assistance.  A little noisier than my previous one, but it should be more effective and only draws 3.7 watts or .3 of an amp.  Jeff cleaned his solar panels.
Sunday 4 November – Town Beach
Once again we were in the right place at the right time.  It was the day of the The Big Breakfast on Tocumwal foreshore.  We joined many others for bacon & egg rolls, pancakes & strawberries, coffee and fresh fruit salad under perfect blue skies.  We headed out to get some red gum firewood and gave the chain saw a good work out.  We should have enough for the week and maybe the trip home.  I then replaced the washing machine drain hose that had a leak in it which is not a fun job.   I braved the cold water of the Murray for a swim, it was very refreshing.  I got the kayak down and fought the currents to paddle upstream for about a kilometre, around 3 long bends.  Crossing sides on the bends was the tricky part.  Coming back down was the most enjoyable though.
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Saturday 3 November – Town Beach
We had arrived at just the right time as it was market day today at the Tocumwal Riverside Markets with over 200 stalls of all sorts.  We spent most of the morning there and had a relaxing afternoon back at camp.  We shared happy hour with Geoff & Joy and two other couples who are friends of theirs.  We then had dinner and spent some time under the stars in front of the pig.  Ahhh, the serenity……
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Friday 2 November – Morning Glory Resort to Camps 6 NSW990 Town Beach (Tocumwal)
Another big day on the road, 91 kilometres in total.  I don’t know if I can keep this pace up!  Along the way at Strathmerton we came across The Big Strawberry.  Well this had to be investigated.  After pancakes, strawberries & ice-cream & coffee, we purchased numerous sauces & spreads for later.  We eventually found Town Beach which is not sign posted very well in town.  From the main street, turn right at the sign, then right again, at the end of the street turn left and follow the track.  This is a large camping area and although not free has a lot to offer for $5 per night per person or $50 per week for 2 people.  It has basic flushing toilets, drinking town water on tap at many sights, bins and a dump point beside the loo.  On top of that you can camp 10 metres from the water and it has a huge sandy beach out front.  The waters a bit chilly, but it’s almost clear.  Amanda & Martin had to leave us to head for Melbourne as Amanda had to return to their business.  Martin said he may meet up with us later.  As we were checking for a spot to set up camp we came across Geoff & Joy Burgess who we had met recently and went to dinner with them at our local bowls club.  They had come for a short stay and had now been here 3 weeks and were staying one more.  We paid our $50 and decided to sit in one spot for a while as it is almost perfect.
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Thursday 1 November – Morning Glory Resort/Echuca
Basically, a day of rest around camp.  Went for a walk to the beach area again, this time with Martin, Amanda and Titus along.  Sammy & Titus had a ball as usual but unfortunately we lost Sammie’s ball to the currents of the Murray, which seem to be faster the further we go.
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Wednesday 31 October – Morning Glory Resort/Echuca
The owners of Morning Glory tried to book a cruise from our camp site to Cape Horn Winery for lunch, but their boat was out of the water at present.  For the same price of $66 per person we drove to the Port of Echuca and boarded a 150 year old paddle steamer, The Pevensey.  But while waiting for the cruise to leave we crossed the road and tasted a variety of ports from the Port House.  They have the best selection of ports and kegs I have seen anywhere. The cruise was fantastic as the history of the port and it’s paddle steamer fleet was described in detail along the way.  You really got a feel for what it was like, standing beside this ancient boiler while it choofed along pumping it’s cylinders in and out and turning the paddles on each side.  The skipper rang bells, once for forwards and twice for reverse and the stoker situated down below the boiler would change the gears by hand.  This is not a job for wimps as it’s hot, hard work.  But these men seem to love the life and are living history for all of us to see.  The meals, wines and service at the winery was first class and it was a struggle to stay awake on the cruise back to port.  We then crossed the road and purchased a few litres of port for the trip home.  We also wandered around the historic port town sampling cheeses and chocolates along the way.  What a fantastic day out!  Debbie & I then took Sammy for a 3 klm walk to a sandy beach on the bank of the Murray where we let him off leash for the first time away from home.  He went ballistic, running up and down, splashing in the water and rolling in the sand.  But catching him was another story.  He liked this taste of freedom and didn’t want it to end.  After several dives in the sand we eventually caught him and headed back to camp.
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Tuesday 30 October – Gunbower to Morning Glory Resort (Echuca)
This time we headed straight down the highway with the obligatory stop at a winery along the way.  We drove out to Camps 6 VIC313 Christies Beach Campground and found some sites at Betts Beach that were dusty and high above the river.  We were advised that Christies was packed and it was unlikely three large vans would get in together.  We went back to the Echuca information centre and Terry & Fay decided to go to a caravan park in town as they planned to head for Sydney the next day.  We drove out to Camps 6 VIC308 Barmah Lakes Campground to find that it had only just been opened after the floods had receded, the toilets were closed and signs everywhere stated dogs were not allowed.  Both camp books we have indicate dogs are allowed.  It looked like  a nice forest camp by the lake with what would normally be a sandy beach area, but looked a bit swampy at present.  We were heading back to Echuca when we passed a sign saying Morning Glory Resort not far from Barmah. How could you not enquire with a name like that. So Debbie Googled their website and found everything we were looking for.  Camp sites by the river, dogs allowed, excellent amenities, fires allowed, a dump point, bush walks and powered sites for $34 per night and only 40 minutes from town.  This is a beautiful spot and the hosts are wonderful.
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Monday 29 October – Gunbower State Forest
A perfect day weather wise so Debbie & I paddled upstream this time passing several campsites, everglades, hundreds of water hens and numerous other birds I wish I knew the names of.  Sammy had a couple of swims on the way to help keep him cool, which he seemed to enjoy.  After 45 minutes we arrived at an old farm house perched on the bank of the river with a fabulous rose garden along the edge.  The paddle back was quicker as the gentle current assisted our efforts.  We all went into town and checked out some of the local history detailed on interpretive signs along an easy river walk.  The sawmill is part of this walk and continues to operate using replanted red gum forests.  They used to build paddle steamers & barges here and it also had a rail line from the river to Melbourne transporting wool, meat, supplies and people.  We played a game of Klopp (a game similar to bocce with wooden blocks) under lights from the vans and had a ball.
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Sunday 28 October – Nyah to Camps 6 VIC323 Gunbower State Forest (Koondrook)
We decided to follow the roads along the Murray rather than the main highway.  We called into Loddon Floodway camp VIC330 and you can get vans in there, but it’s basically just a turn around on the bank of the river.  There are no facilities and it’s pretty isolated.  We continued on and soon found that this road doesn’t go through as it’s cut by a river.  We got advice from a passing farmer that there was a way out across a bridge that isn’t on any of our maps.  We zig-zagged through numerous back roads and came out at Murrabit.  It’s a tiny little town that apparently springs to life on the first Sunday of each month when people come from as far away as Melbourne to set up and attend the country markets held here.  Other than that there’s not a lot happening here.  We then ventured into Camps 6 VIC324 Guttram State Forest down some slightly boggy, windy and rutted tracks.  Towing 3.5 ton vans through this is quite a challenge as narrow tree lined tracks are bad enough, but we ended in a swamp and when we got out to try and work out how to turn around we were attacked by thousands of mossies.  I backed the van into the mud and managed to get out unscathed.  We then headed in to Camps 6 VIC 323 at Gunbower State Forest and got an unbelievable spot on the banks of the canoe trail, which is a side stream off the Murray that meanders through everglades and farm land.  This was paradise and we set up in a u-shape facing the water.  Debbie and I kayaked down stream to the causeway and back which was both some well overdue exercise and quite a scenic paddle.
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Saturday 27 October – Rufus River to Camps 6 VIC333 Nyah Recreation Reserve
A short drive on we came across Lock 7 camp.  It had limited sites with some swampy area about.   Lock 8 is a nice spot with good shelter and a very popular boat ramp for access to what appears to be wetlands and canals.  We surmised most of these people came out from Wentworth or even Mildura.  Now back on bitumen we continued on to Wentworth and had smoko at the bakery.  The woman and her daughter serving had sour looks on their faces and the coffee & pies were bland.  They can’t all be perfect!  In Mildura we went via the toilet dump point to the show grounds where we topped up our water tanks.  Terry & Fay (from Arrawarra NSW) joined us as they are on their way to Sydney returning from the west.  We met them at Streaky Bay 2 years ago and had exchanged details.  They will tag along with us for a few days.  We continued following the Murray in and out of Victoria and NSW stopping in at Trentham Estate and Andrew Peace wineries for tastings and some more purchases.  Oh it’s a hard life!  We then stopped in at Camps NSW1194 Bottle Bend forest Picnic Area for lunch.  A nice camp spot on the river but with no facilities.  We continued on to Nyah Lions Park which is on the river and is a free camp with toilets, water and a dump point.  The wind finally died down so we had another pleasant night around the camp fire.
Friday 26 October – Murtho Forest to Rufus River (Lake Victoria)
I mistakenly thought that we could cross to the northern side of the Murray on this road, but I was wr…r……..r……..WRONG!!!  So we back tracked to Renmark and turned north through some remote country on some fairly corrugated roads and crossed into NSW.  We love travelling on these back roads with virtually no other traffic and with emus and roos shooting across the road from time to time.  There are several large lakes in view along this road, which are full at present and a sight to behold with ample birdlife flitting about.  This is  a harsh and mostly arid land we live in and no more obvious than around here.  Where there is irrigation from the Murray you see endless miles of rich green orchards & vineyards.  But where there is none the land is bare, dry and covered in salt bush, scrub and burrs of various types.  There is now a small camp site at the Lake Victoria weir with toilets and water on tap, but as the wind was blowing strong again we decided to try and find something with more shelter.  After crossing a culvert we turned right and drove along a narrow levee wall for several kilometres and found a sight behind some large red gums right on the waters edge.  GPS’S –’E.  I think this area is actually an overflow for Lake Victoria, so we prayed they didn’t decide to release some water overnight.  As we could have experienced house boating in our vans.  We set the pig up behind the van and enjoyed a nice warm fire and a few ales.
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Thursday 25 October – Berri to Camps 6 SA152 Murtho Forest Landing
We had pancakes & fruit for breaky and said our very sad goodbye’s before meeting up with Martin & Amanda again at the Renmark Rose Gardens for lunch.  Amazing rose gardens, supposedly the largest in Australia and the food’s not bad either.  We then stopped in to check out Plush’s Bend (Camps 6 SA156) which had a couple of nice spots, but the surrounding area was swamp land and the banks were quite muddy in places.  We decided to move on as we were likely to be eaten alive by mossies here.  We continued on through Renmark to Murtho Forest, which has several klms of dirt road and a good lookout on the way that looks down on the river and red cliffs.  There are no facilities here and we did some careful manoeuvring to find a suitable spot between the trees.  Every camp spot along the Murray is dusty due to recent flooding and you can see where the levels have been and how fast it is dropping.  As usual in these parts, the wind was blowing and clouds of dust blew through the camp constantly.  We decided that tomorrow we would follow the northern side of the Murray along 4wd tracks to Wentworth south of Lake Victoria if possible.
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Wednesday 24 October – Berri
We had a BBQ bacon & egg breaky and went for a 4 klm walk to Martins bend, a free camp also on the Murray that we had stayed overnight at once before. There are flushing toilets, a caretaker and a nice park across the road beside the river, but the sites are fairly dusty and amongst trees.  We had a lazy afternoon and a BBQ dinner, all very relaxing.
Tuesday 23 October – Ramco Point to Berri Top Tourist Caravan Park
On the way to Berri we came across Banrock Station Winery once again and because Martin & Amanda hadn’t been there, we felt obliged to pop in and show them the sites.  Of course it was smoko time and scones, quondong jam, cream & coffees were ordered.  The girls did some wine tasting and some takeaways were purchased for the possibility of dry times ahead.  We checked into the caravan park around 1100am and it was wonderful to step out onto nice green lawns.  Jason, Maddie & Oliver joined us soon after and moved into a cabin right beside us.  We had the usual wines and rum liqueur and nibbles for happy hour followed by takeaway noodles for dinner.
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Monday 22 October – Ramco Point
Clear blue skies and a top temp of 26c today.  Sammy our Tiboodle (Tibetan Spaniel – Poodle cross) was let loose this morning and he went ballistic playing ball with Titus (Martin & Amanda’s Kelpie Cross).  It’s tough sitting here having breaky looking out at the river and watching paddle steamers that toot their whistles as they pass you by.  I managed to catch 6 silver perch while camped here and again I had to through them all back.  There’s not much you can legally keep other than callop (yellow belly) which seem to be rarer than the protected species.
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Sunday 21 October – Swan Reach to Camps 6 SA195 Ramco Point at Waikerie
Only 65 klms away and we arrived in Waikerie to top up our fuel, water, food and alcohol supplies.  We wanted to check out the Waikerie Bakery for smoko, but it was closed.  Fortunately we came across the Chocolate Cafe which overlooks parkland and of course the Murray River.  Debbie & I indulged in a chocolate fruit fondue which was deliciously evil.  Martin had lemon meringue pie and Amanda had waffles with ice-cream and chocolate topping.  All washed down with some excellent coffee.  We then headed out to the camping area about 5 klms out of town and drove along hard sandy tracks till we found a suitable spot with lakes on one side and the Murray on the other.  It took a bit of manoeuvring to get in with our rigs but we managed without any damage.  As soon as we were set up, I threw a line in and caught three silver perch which like most fish in the Murray River, are protected, so they were set free.
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Saturday 20 October – Swan Reach
Had another blowy night, which seems to be a common occurrence down here.  I baked my first ever batch of scones and it was quite an experience mixing the dough.  I must say they were pretty good too.  Another beautiful day, so we walked in to town and checked out the museum which housed a fantastic range of memorabilia.  Their rose gardens are spectacular and beautifully scented also.  The climate here is obviously to their liking.   Fellow Kedron owners, Chris & Val dropped in for a visit, so we joined them for lunch at the pub.  It’s always nice to catch up with old friends along the way.
Friday 19 October – Swan Reach
Woke to a beautiful day, much warmer than what we’ve been having with the temperature reaching 26c.  Deb and I went for a kayak upstream and stuck close to the cliffs to avoid the current and the wind which had picked up once again.  The four of us walked to the ferry about 300m away and went across to the pub for lunch, which looks out over the river and the ferry from above.  Very nice!  We did a walk around town before heading back across the river on the ferry.  We were told by another camper that the local council was introducing camp fees for these camps along the Murray from 1 December 2012.  How sad it is that we are slowly losing these wonderful free camps all around Australia.  I personally don’t object to a small fee of say $5 to cover the cost of garbage removal and toilet cleaning, but we were told it will likely be $10 to $15 per night.  These small towns may lose out in the long run as it’s the campers that often support their small businesses and make them viable.

Thursday 18 October – Langhorne Creek to Camps 6 SA222 Tenbury Reserve at Swan Reach
We checked out several other camps along the way including Camps SA237 Bolto Reserve which was OK but they now charge $10 per vehicle per night.  Camps SA235 Purnong Reserve was nice, but not what we were looking for.  Camps SA236 Haythorpe Reserve is about 400 metres from Purnong and is free.  It is a strip of mostly grassy land between the road and the river on the opposite bank to Mannum.
Swan Reach is a beaut little town and the camp is located on the opposite bank with clean flushing toilets as well.  You need to get in early as there are limited spots and they fill up in the afternoons.  This is paradise, with waterfront sites and orange cliffs opposite, it doesn’t get much better!
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Wednesday 17 October – Narrung to Camps 6 SA256 Frank Potts Reserve at Langhorne Creek
This was a nice little camp we spotted on the way through.  Located beside some lovely wineries this placed us well for a drive down to the Goolwa Barrages.  Not to mention a few stops at those wineries along the way.  While at this camp we met a couple from Kallangur and another from Scarborough, what a small world it is sometimes.  After unhitching our van the first stop on our drive to Goolwa was the bakery in Strathalbyn for coffee and some sinful pastries. On arrival at the barrage (which separates the salt water from the fresh at the mouth of the Murray River) we walked out along the wall and spotted seals perched on the loch walls and frolicking about in the water. We then walked several hundred metres over the sand dunes on a boarded path to check out the beach and touch the cool waters of the Southern Ocean. On the return trip we dropped in for wine tastings and some purchases and back near camp for lunch at the Bremerton Winery. The mixed cheese platter and Mediterranean pizza was fantastic, and the wine wasn’t bad either. The last winery for the day was Bleasdale, a favourite of Martin & Amanda’s. They have a huge wine press like no other here with timber beams weighing 3.5 tons that do the actual crushing.  Their huge wine vats are made of red gum and we were told all hand made.
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Tuesday 16 October – Exploring the Coorong National Park
We drove out to Pelican Point and down to Long Point along the banks of the Coorong.  The views were fantastic and the birdlife prolific with thousands of pelicans & black swans amongst them.  We headed back via Meningie and had a beautiful meal at the old cheese factory.  It had the biggest indoor pig heater that I’ve ever seen.  It appears to have been made from a 100kg gas bottle.  Very impressive and it put out quite a lot of heat.  Once back at camp & after a brief nanna nap we walked up to the old lighthouse on the hill via the car ferry.  The wind here blows either hard or very hard.  And at the moment it’s very hard with extreme gusts of icy cold wind.
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Monday 15 October – Christies Beach to Narrung Jetty Reserve (Camps 6 SA44)
The drive down through McLaren Vale, Meadows & Strathalbyn was absolutely beautiful. Rolling hills and valleys with quaint little villages scattered along the way made this trip very enjoyable.  We called into the Strathalbyn information centre and got some good advice on a couple of wineries along our way and some literature on the Coorongs.  We stopped at Bremerton winery for lunch consisting of a delicious cheese platter with a mix of dukkah, olives & meats.  The camp site turned out to be a large grassy area on the banks of Lake Alexandrina with flushing toilets and a jetty to fish from.
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Sunday 14 October – Adelaide
Had breaky at Jason’s & took Oliver to the park.
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Saturday 13 October – Adelaide
No wind today and a balmy 21 degrees and sunny!  In the morning we went and watched our grandson Oliver have a swimming lesson and then they came to Christies Beach for the afternoon.  It was a beautiful day for the beach with the sailing and fishing boats passing by out front.  We enjoyed some fantastic local fish and chips for dinner as the sun set over the sea.  Very nice and relaxing.
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Friday 12 October – Adelaide
We dropped our car in to Toyota for a service and went to Jason’s for the day.  The sun finally came out and if you managed to find a spot out of the wind it was quite nice.
Thursday 11 October – Walpeup to Christies Beach Adelaide
An easy days drive down into Adelaide & south to Christies Beach Caravan Park.  This park accepts small dogs and has all the mod cons and appears to be fairly new. On our arrival it hailed, blew, rained and sun shined all in half an hour.  Typical Adelaide weather.  The Lifesaving Club is out front so meals are available if required.  On arrival we set up the awning and shade cloth walls.  Within the hour we were battling high winds trying to pull it down and pack it away before it was ripped off completely.  It was about 7 degrees so we hid indoors most of the time.  We had dinner with Jason, Maddie & Oliver at their house in Clarence Gardens before heading back to the van for a good nights sleep.
Wednesday 10 October – Wagga Wagga to Walpeup
Pulled up for the night at Walpeup – $9 unpowered / $10 powered – showers & toilets – we have used this camp spot a few times on our travels to Adelaide.  Very nice and clean amenities with a short Mallee walk across the road.

Tuesday 9 October – OK Caravan Park to Nose Cone factory at Guildford (Western Sydney)
We battled through the early morning traffic & arrived at the factory around 9am. The Nose Cone was to take several hours to fit so this was a perfect opportunity to get this blog started.

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Nose Cone Australia, 12 Donald Street NSW
Before Nose Cone Nose Cone Installed


Just after lunch we hit the road out of Sydney and stopped overnight at a free camp at Wagga Wagga. It was a large area with showers and toilets beside the main road.

Monday 8 October – Tyndale to OK Caravan Park (Rouse Hill, Sydney)
Trev cooked us a big breaky, which I highly recommend if you’re passing this way.  After the ordeal of the day before, Sammy didn’t want anything to do with our car – started drooling as soon as we put him in his bed on the back seat, so on Debbie’s lap he went and he had a much better day.

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Tyndale Roadhouse
Sammy feeling a lot better on Deb’s lap

The Pacific Highway should be better than the New England Highway in a couple of years when the road works are all finished, but for now it’s a lot of speeding up & slowing down. Otherwise we had a pretty good run and arrived at our destination around 5pm (DST).  We enjoyed a couple of Kate’s (Bev & Trev’s daughter) home made pies for dinner, which were delightful.

Sunday 7 October – Brisbane to Tyndale Roadhouse/Caravan Park NSW
Left around 10 o’clock on this beautiful Sunday morning expecting an easy drive down the Pacific Highway.  No such luck!  There was a 4 car pile up with a fatality near Helensvale & the traffic came to a standstill.

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Traffic on Motorway heading to
Gold Coast

Truckies were advising to get off exit 39 I think, but you wouldn’t believe it, this led to Yawalpah road that was blocked off for some construction works and the service road was backed up also.  Next we heard a truckie advise to head across the highway to Rifle Range road which we followed through a few suburbs but eventually this road was backing up & we heard the next best way was Tamborine Road.  But I didn’t hear him say take the next turn left and we ended up heading up the Eagle Heights Road.  OMG it was 35c & this was some mountain to climb with a fully loaded van on the back.  We turned around at the top & luckily I noticed the van brake controller wasn’t working.  I think the engine bay was so hot the circuit breaker cut off.  After 10 minutes it came back on and we continued our journey.  And throughout this whole disaster, we had a very sick puppy (Sammy) who luckily was obliging enough to be sick in the sick bag:)  Needless to say, I had quite a few ales with Bev & Trev this night to calm me down again.


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