caravan park

Fishing Fanatics Favourite Camp

ast night I went 12 kilometres along a narrow side road, with a sealed strip of bitumen only wide enough for one vehicle, to find a Caravan Park at the mouth of the Kolan River.I found Miara Holiday Park a camp full of fanatical fishing folk. The campers seemed to be here for the fishing, there’s nothing else here. Every one had a big 4WD to tow THE BOAT.

This is what Matilda had to look at tonight

At 4-30pm, when I arrived it was a quiet sleepy camp, they gave me a site under a large shady tree. Unfortunately that tree had a mass of ripe berries and the birds were tucking into them with gusto and inevitable consequences. Matilda was right in the firing line….

So I moved to another tree with no berries…

About 5-30pm the clans started to stir and to gather, with chairs and booze they congregated in groups at various vans. Obviously a regular ritual of “Happy Hour”. I didn’t have a clan so instead, this time, I quietly read my book and watched and listened to the friendly banter.

Like most river and beach sites it had a cool breeze and that made for a comfortable nights sleep.

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At 6am this morning the camp became a hive of activity as boats were launched to check the crab pots before breakfast. The serious fishing comes later.

I wandered down to the boat ramp to watch the goings on. Great photo opportunities

If you are serious about fishing you need a serious 4WD to pull the boat or carry the tinnie…

Launching the boat

Another tinnie hits the water

Racing to get to the crab pots

Some people do not have a boat but that doesn’t stop them.

Early morning fisherman maybe he will have fish for breakfast…

Now it is time to wait and contemplate and dream of the big one

A lonely seagull waits for the return of the boats

The seagull is such a lovely soft colour, but what a raucus squawk it has..

But wait there’s not just one bird, every post has a bird perched on it

All clustering together

The Kolan River

Yesterday afternoon when I arrived in camp the tide was out and I didn’t think I would bother with taking any photos. What a difference a few hours make. complete transformation once the tide was in.

I will only be going about 100 kilometres today as I plan to have a look around Bundaberg then stay at the Lighthouse camp ground at Burnett Heads.(If you click on this link you will find an earlier post I did about Bundaberg when we stayed here in 2010)

Then tonight I will be hoping to see the endangered loggerhead turtles as they heave themselves up the beach to dig a nest and lay their eggs. This is the season they come ashore but, being wild creatures there is no guarantee that they will turn up

To see this amazing sight has been on my “bucket list” since I moved to Australia…

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Categories: australian travel, caravan park, Kolan River, Miara, photos, travel | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Sunrise walk along the beach

On Friday I approached Mackay with caution. I planned to find my way to the Art Space. Now I have a very poor sense of direction: directionally challenged I believe the phrase is, and without a navigator it could be a difficult assignment. Cities and heavy traffic have a way of confusing me. Miraculously, with the help of signs pointing the way at every corner, I found it and what’s more I fluked a free parking spot right outside the gallery. What an excellent start to the day. Art galleries, museums and botanic gardens are always a top attraction for me, so this time I decided to see what was on show at the Art Space.

An exhibition by the artist Jenny Sages “Paths to portraiture” was on display. Her work overwhelmed me. Huge canvases, some just a persons face and larger than life, in fact the canvas would be about 4-5 foot square with the face covering the canvas, others where life-size portraits of the person. The technique I have never seen before. She pours molten wax onto the canvas then when it is dry the portrait is etched into it and oil colour is then brushed, scrubbed and manipulated into the wax. The finished effect is very tactile and life-like. An art critic on a video showing Jenny at work described them as a “speaking likeness” and as I stood in front of each one I did expect them to talk to me. (click here to see the video that was on show at the gallery).

Back onto the Bruce Highway and mile after mile of road works , many just one way sections with long queues waiting their turn to get through. It must be my lucky day as with the exception of one 5 minute wait, I caught the traffic controller person with the go sign facing me at each one way section…

I estimated approx 60-70% of the area I drove  today was almost finished, many sections just had the white lines to be painted, or still in major repair mode. It makes me wonder where is the money coming from??? When finished it should be a pleasure to drive along…

After an uneventful 237 kilometre drive I turned into a side road running parallel to the Bruce Highway and along the ocean front. Along this road lies hidden the small hamlet of Clairview. Approximately 50-60 cottages nestled right on the beachfront. During storms or high tides the ocean invades their garden space. They do have a free over-night rest area but I decided to stay at the caravan park. It has its own pub which is also a hangout for the locals. Having stayed here a few times it is another of our favourites.

It didn’t disappoint me, I had a site almost on the beach and the cooling breeze coming from the ocean was pure bliss. Also being Friday it was fish and chip night….

With the sound and smell of the ocean and the cool breeze I had a very good nights sleep…

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Saturday….

This morning I woke early with the sun just appearing over the silky oaks and date palms lining the beach in front of Matilda and couldn’t resist grabbing the camera for a walk along the beach as the sun rose. I had a companion join me….

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Categories: caravan park, slide show, travel | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Kakadu Heritage listed National Park

I am covered in mosquito bites, despite smothering myself with repellent. I wonder was it worth it? Was it what I expected?

No it wasn’t the wilderness I expected. It is interesting. I can see the diversity and appreciate the cultural significance for the indigenous people, but it seems subdued. The fire management policy of patchwork burning has created a landscape of alternating scorched earth and blackened trees to other areas of fresh, green growth. In my mind’s eye I could imagine the new growth in a few years would be thick, rampant and jungle-like, but it is not allowed to run wild and unfettered, it is now controlled into submission. I know this has to be done and it is following the way the Aboriginal people have managed their environment for tens of thousands of years. 80% of Kakadu is Savanna Woodlands and the grass grows thick and lush in the wet season. If left it would become a serious fire hazard in the dry and wild, uncontrollable fires would rage through the country.

The unburnt areas are beautiful…

Evening light filtering through the gum trees

 

Kakadu Savanna Woodlands

We came in from the Southern end and this is mostly Savanna Woodlands. We camped at the basic bush camps, toilet and solar heated showers. Being the dry season it was quite dusty but only $10 per person so for budget travellers it had every thing we needed. We have a portable solar panel to supply our own power, and it is always sunny with not a cloud in the sky. One thing we did miss and that was the internet connection…

We can even have a camp fire as fire grates are provided and there is plenty of dead wood around. This was the first time this trip that “one match Jack” had been in action…

One match Jack strikes again

 

Camp fire meditation

By day 3 we had moved further into Kakadu. This is one of the largest parks in Australia and covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres. Within this vast landscape there are 6 main landforms and the habitats in each is distinctively different and quite unique. We passed through the floodplains and billabongs and the bird life is amazing.

By now I had become used to the patchwork burning and accepted it as part of the Kakadu scenery. As we crossed bridges across the mighty South Alligator River and it’s tributaries, we would stop to marvel at the beauty of the waterways and the reflections and, of course, the birds. The South Alligator River is one of the only rivers in the world that is totally enclosed, and therefore protected, in a National Park. The other creäture it is famous for is the huge salt water crocodile. We have not spotted any as yet, but when you walk close to a river, stream or billabong you are on high alert watching for any signs and of course not getting too close to any swampy areas…

White Heron waiting for breakfast

 

White Heron

 

South Alligator river

 

Monsoon forest area reflections on the South Alligator river

 

The park is very well maintained and plenty of walks and tracks that can be followed. They cater for all levels of fitness and age.

20 years ago we had visited Kakadu and the most outstanding memory from that trip was going to Gunlom Falls. We walked the very steep one kilometre track to the top of the waterfall and swam and floated in the pristine mountain stream and connecting pools leading to the edge of the falls. I remember being watched by a large water dragon basking on the rocks. We sat and dried off on the smooth, sun-warmed rocks right on the edge of the drop down to the plunge pool many metres below. Later we swam in that plunge pool and small, iridescent blue bee-eater kingfishers darted and dived above us flashing like jewels in a crown. It was a magic moment.

A large goanna, the size of a fox terrier dog, ambled around the camp as we ate dinner. The ranger said he was called Charlie and not to feed him. That night, as we sat under the stars, the ranger gave a slide show about the flora and fauna of kakadu. As we lay in the hire van we could hear dingoes howling in the distance. Hearing a rustle we looked out the van window to see 2 dingoes checking around the BBQ areas. It was a surreal experience.

( when I get back home I will post some old-fashioned prints from that trip, on my memories blog, to compare them with this time…)

Back to the present: I was looking forward to Gunlom, but it wasn’t to be, the 36 kilometre track was only recommended for 4WD vehicles as it had not been graded this year and was very corrugated. Some said “you can do it, just go slow”. Matilda is at 14 years old, a middle-aged lady and has to last us many more miles as wheels, accommodation and travel companion, so, reluctantly, we missed Gunlom this time.

Now we are up to day 5 and have come in to the small township of Jabiru. We are staying in Kakadu Lodge caravan Park and it is very civilised. Power, shady grass sites, internet, swimming pool, even a bar/bistro with entertainment tonight. So we are going to have a meal over there and chill out for a couple of days before the next part of Kakadu which will be moving into the stone country and exploring the Aboriginal art work sites and culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: aboriginal history, Australia, australian travel, camping australia, caravan park, Kakadu National Park, National Parks, Northern Territory | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Historical Springvale Homestead and thoughts on travel

In the middle of a burn area this sculptural group survives

Travelling I think is genetic, some people have an urge to move, explore,experience new places. Others are happy to stay in one place, making a nest, putting down roots, surrounded by family and familiar friends.

I know I am the restless gypsy type. To explore and discover new places gives me satisfaction. If I am in one place for long I get restless and start to plan the next trip.

Discovering the history of the places we pass through brings the area alive. Over the weekend we stayed in the campground behind Springvale Homestead, 5 kilometres from the town of Katherine. This has a very interesting history and is the oldest surviving homestead in the Northern Territory. Every afternoon at 3pm Wendy gives a very lively and descriptive talk about the history of the place. Since 1877 it has been through good times and bad. Many different types of farming have been tried. For me the individual character of Mary Giles shone through in the talk. She came as a young bride from the city of Adelaide and was the first white woman to to be brought onto a station in the Northern territory. What a strong, resilient pioneer, how lonely she must’ve been, but she planted a vegetable garden and fruit trees, then used the produce to make preserves, jams and chutneys.When the gold rush started a few years later at Pine Creek just 90 kilometres along the road she built a thriving cottage industry selling her produce to the passing crowds going to, hopefully, make their fortune in the gold fields. She even had a separate storehouse built for her business.

Alfred and Mary Giles and family

Eventually the station went broke. Over 4 years the 1200 sheep that had walked over 2000 kilometres from Adelaide had dwindled to 70. The spear grass had got into their gut and poisoned them, and they could not breed. In 1886 the property was put on the market and Alfred and Mary and their 4 surviving children moved on.

Historic Springvale Homestead

But the Homestead remained. It survived fire and flood and in the 1980’s joined the tourist industry with the establishment of a campground and cabins behind the old homestead. The natural hot springs were capped and a swimming pool created with a constant 34 degree temperature. The camp is situated on the banks of a peaceful lagoon. We stayed 3 days in this idyllic setting.

 

The town of Katherine was the scene of one of Australia’s worst floods in 1998. The river rose and the town was inundated. The homestead on the banks of the Katherine River had water up to the roof. Looking at this gently flowing waterway today it is hard to imagine the roaring,giant monster that swept all before it in 1998.

Railway bridge over the Katherine river

This railway bridge was covered, the water came 6 foot over the lines. It is very hard to visualise that much water pouring through.

 

In 2005 I stayed in Katherine backpackers when I travelled around Australia by Greyhound bus (that is another story….) At that time the memories of the flood and the emotions were still very raw. I visited the museum and they had a video made by the SBS TV station showing the horrors and aftermath of that flood. They interviewed locals who shared their stories of loss and grief but also heroism. Being in the town and watching that video had a great impact on me. I felt the sorrow but also the mateship and bonding that great disasters bring to a district.

Next year, 2006,I sat in disbelief, at home, and watched on TV as Katherine, once more, sank beneath the river.

This country is beautiful but capricious and can turn in a moment to danger and disaster.

On a lighter note, when the flood water went down a saltwater crocodile was found swimming around Woolworth’s supermarket meat department….

Family conference termite sculpture

 

As for these characters? We saw them along the road and just had to stop and take their photos, they seemed to call out to us….

Categories: Australia, australian travel, caravan park, floods, Northern Territory, outback, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Longreach outback town…

The pub is the centre of out back towns

Heritage buildings

After a day exploring the town and having lunch at the local RSL club we walked back to the Longreach Caravan Park which was only 4 blocks from the main street. It is a small, shady, friendly camp ground and they have a “happy hour” at 10am and 4pm every day when you can have a cuppa or “whatever” and meet and greet and swap stories with the other travellers. We arrived back at 4pm and had “whatever”…..

Shady Longreach Caravan Park

Matilda at rest

Smoko time get together for the campers

We spent 3 days in Longreach. Now we turn north-west and head toward Winton. The town famous for the song “Waltzing Matilda” that Banjo Patterson wrote.

Categories: australian travel, caravan park, outback, photos, Pubs, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Small battery, BIG problem….

Car keys with isolator switch

 

We woke to a light mist cloaking the landscape giving it a soft mystical aura. Fog and mist are almost unknown in this area.

We came down to earth with a bump when the van wouldn’t start. Oh dear, turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened. What to do now?

Finally worked out it was the very small battery in the isolator switch that had died, it was an A27 size. Jack went to the camp shop to see if they had one. It was a very unusual size and of course they didn’t have one. Another customer in the shop overheard the conversation and came over to see if he could help. Well how is this for luck, coincidence or a chance encounter. Mark Norman worked in a battery franchise, “Mr Minute”, in Townsville and had experience with our problem, he knew just what was wrong. The camp shop did have a slightly bigger battery that Mark used to get the isolater going. So patched together with celotape and handling it very carefully we were able to get on the road again…

Mist in the bush

Wattle in full flower

The long straight road to the outback

The road from Sapphire to Longreach is the Capricorn highway and it is long and straight and in good condition. The weather has cleared and the bush sparkles after the recent rain. The wattle is a golden cloud under an azure blue sky, it is a pleasure to be out on the road. The occasional road train roars by and other travellers towing caravans behind big 4 WD vehicles easily pass us by.

At a small township called Alpha we stop for lunch, a pie from the local bakery with our thermos of coffee. A visit to each shop that may have batteries, but with no luck, and a look around the colourful murals this town is renowned for.

Mural on toilet at Alpha

Next stop is Barcaldine, famous for being the birth place of the labour party. The shearers walked out of the shearing sheds and gathered in Barcaldine to protest about conditions and pay. The tree they gathered under was named the tree of knowledge and in 2006 was heritage listed. In that same year someone poisoned the tree and though a great deal of effort was made to save the tree it died. Now a stylized sculpture of the tree stands in its place. It created a lot of controversy when it was first erected and it is certainly different. But I thought it was a beautiful work of art.

Barcaldine tree of knowledge

Artists sculpture of tree of knowledge

Tree of knowledge information

It was 4-30 by the time we reached Barcaldine and still had 120 kilometres to Longreach. Now normally we would stop at this time and find a van park for the night, but because the van parks are difficult to get into at this time of the year I had booked ahead to Longreach. Because we did not leave till 11am this morning, because of the key problem, we were now quite a lot later than I had intended to be on the road. However we pushed on into the setting sun and going west it became quite hard to see as the sun got lower and lower on the horizon. Now, unfortunately we came to road works and lots of pot holes. Then there is the ever-present danger of a kangaroo leaping out in front of you…

Finally we reached Longreach in the dark at 6-30 and gratefully relaxed with a very welcome glass of wine and Jack cracked the bottle of home-brew he was given by Scott. We celebrated our arrival in the great Australian outback…

Categories: australian travel, Barcaldine, caravan park, Longreach, out back, photos, travel, Tree of knowledge | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy campers– not raining today

Travellers are by nature optimistic, if it’s raining, well it is a good day for a rest. Tomorrow may be fine. This is gem fossicking country and the rain will wash the dirt from the sapphires making them sparkle and easier to find

Washing the dirt away hoping to find hidden gems

A few days ago after the rain the creek behind the van park had been in danger of flooding and everyone was told to get their vans packed ready to move quickly if the rain didn’t stop. Fortunately it did stop and the creek is now going down quickly. This old couple had taken their bag of tailings down to wash and sieve it.

We decided to stay here another day to explore. We drove to Rubyvale. 20 years ago when we stayed here the land resembled a moonscape. No grass just heaps of dirt. The country was in drought at that time. It is so different this visit.

Plenty to see in Rubyvale

I like the name of this mine

Plenty of water, the dams are all full

Interesting facts

This person has a sense of humour

Camping out back is a friendly experience. The culture is of mateship, instant friendships are made over a beer or glass of wine, when they gather in the camp kitchen for “happy hour”. Travel tales are swapped and talk is of the gems that have been found.

Happy hour for the blokes

Categories: australian travel, camping, caravan park, gemfields, out back, photos, travel | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Growth has come from disaster in Childers

Palace Memorial building now the art gallery and tourist information centre

Two days on the road and we are settling into our routine of travel. Leisurely start with breakfast, pack up van and take off with no set plans for the day, just see what turns up. With thermos for cuppa and supplies on board we stop and eat when we are hungry and start looking for some where to camp for the night about 4pm. Because the weather is slightly cold and have had intermittent showers we are going into caravan parks with power so we can put on the little oil-fired heater. Last night was a van park behind “The Golden nugget” road house and truck stop just south of Gympie. The road house had a shepherd’s pie special on the board at $9 so couldn’t go past that. What we forgot was that this is a truck stop and the serving was tasty but HUGE.

Today we arrived in Childers at mid-day. In 2000 they had a terrible disaster when the Palace backpackers, that was in the building above, was deliberately torched and burnt to the ground with the loss of life of 15 young international backpackers trapped in their dormitories. We have passed through Childers several times in our travels and seen it slowly transformed from a rather scruffy small town with not much to stop for, to a vibrant community, proud of its heritage and the centre and heart of the town is the beautifully restored Palace Memorial Centre, the downstairs area is a tourist information centre and is staffed by very helpful and friendly local volunteers. We went upstairs to see the memorial painting of the 15 young people, and the story of the tragic fire. But what we also found was the most amazing works of art by a young 15-year-old aboriginal girl. Chern’ee Sutton has taken aboriginal dot painting and stories of her ancestors dream-time to a vibrant and modern interpretation. When looked at they are fresh, the colours glow. Then we were given 3D glasses to go round again and look at them. WOW!!! they just jumped out and vibrated with life, we could hardly tear ourselves away from them. Butterflies floated in front of deep indigo pits with the dream-time dots flowing in and around them, just amazing. Do go on the link to see some of her work, and read her story, but of course you need to see them in reality to get the full impact, not just photos.

Childers street art, not sure what it is…

Bronze sculpture in memory of the Kanakas from the Pacific islands were forcibly shipped to Australia to work in the cane fields

Dogs waiting and playing while the boss is in the pub

Delicious $10 pub lunch, crumbed Barra, 2 pieces each,, beer battered chips and salad

Categories: aboriginal history, art, camping, caravan park, Childers, travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Clairview Beach sunrise

Clairview Beach sunrise, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

It is 18 months since we stayed at Claireview beach. How time flies. It had not changed, new managers, but still the same laid back beach lifestyle.

I was quite surprised when Lyn, one of the locals remembered us. She remembered I had come originally from Yorkshire and of course every one remembers Jack and his pants…

Lyn invited me to join in the morning “Hoy” session. It is played twice a month at the pub that we camped next to. I had never heard of it but it turns out to be a type of Bingo played with cards instead of numbers. Approximately 20 women and one man turned up and being country folks most brought along a plate of home-baked goodies for morning tea. It was $3-50 for 2 cards and I won one hand and then I was asked to draw the door prize and I pulled out my number, how about that!!! I won a teatowel.

Stayed a couple of days then moved on to Emu Park another beautiful beach area 20km from Rockhampton. We are in Bell Park caravan park it is a council run park and is right on the beach. We were last here 1992 and the small township of Emu Park has certainly changed since then with a whole new shopping complex sprung up. It is still being finished with a large IGA supermarket half-finished. Today, right next to the caravan park the local Lions club is putting on a “Octoberfest” music, stalls, food and beer… I can hear the bands tuning up now so after lunch we will wander over to join in the fun…

Categories: australian travel, caravan park | Tags: | Leave a comment

Cascades caravan park Ayr

Cascades caravan park Ayr, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

We drove nearly 300kms to try to get away from the march fly country and to get to the slightly cooler temperatures further south.

We found this delightful council caravan park at Ayr. The sites are spacious and beautiful large shade trees to park under. The showers are immaculately clean ensuites and only $24 per night I rate this in the top van parks we have stayed in. We decided to stay a week…

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This van park was one of those different parks that stand out from the rest. Many of the residents where permanent travellers staying here for up to 6 months for the cane harvest time and it had a very friendly community spirit. The grass was green and lush as there is no water restrictions in the beautiful Burdikin county so the water sprinklers were going non stop. What made this park unique was a special lady who settled here 6 months ago after being on the road for 11 years in her motor home with dog Sam for company. We were in the site next to Del and she is a passionate gardener and is turning this park into a botanic garden. With very little budget she is transforming the place. The border at the front was a waste land of waist-high weeds which she has transformed into a cottage garden full of flowers, herbs and veggies. Tomatoes spill down the bank and can be picked by the campers along with lettuce and every herb you can think of. She has inspired the permanent residents and given them pots of tomatoes and herbs to grow around their vans and round Del’s motor home it is a riot of pots spilling over with flowers, veggies and herbs. One corner is her potting and planting space and she has plans for every corner to create rainforests and borders of colour every where. It will be a delight to call back here in the future.

The first night the managers were putting on a farewell BBQ for one of the long-term campers who were moving out. It was a good opportunity to meet and greet and it made us feel quickly at home.

The best part is no march flies…

Categories: australian travel, caravan park, garden | Tags: | Leave a comment

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