Wednesday, February 11, 2015

28 days, 5820 kilometers, 500 liters of Petrol

Tent out the back.  Great design.
We spent the night at a hotel in Brisbane and got a lift to the Campervan rental company.  Spaceships.  All the vans have names.  Ours is called 'Ground Control'.  I guess it's calling Major Tom.

We went to the Gold Coast City Marina and found Tortuguita to be in pretty good condition.  Recent rains had washed the decks and no signs of leakage anywhere.  Good on the new windows.  We went driving about to get groceries and things for the trip.  We bought a 12 volt fan to keep us cool at night in the van.  Had jet lagged sleep that night on the boat and left the next day to start camping.

The ELFRUN's.....
Atmo and Petra's house
We met Atmo and Petra, from Privilege 39 catamaran ELFRUN, in Tahiti and were in the same weather window group until New Caledonia.  Atmo is also a pilot and they live on an airpark outside Byron Bay at Tyagarah.  The airport is very busy with parachute jumpers.  We went to a place we called 'Naked Hippie Lake' for an afternoon swim.  The lake is an old quarry and has Tea Tree tannins that make the water almost black.  Good thing for the naked hippies.

The Icarus
That evening we had an excellent dinner, drank too much wine, and slept in the camper in front of Hanger 5.  Half the hanger has a bee honey operation in it.  We bought a kilo for $7.

The next day, Dave went flying with the airport owner in an Icarus ultralight.  It was an interesting plane but the scenery was fantastic.

Byron Light House
From the air, the Byron Bay market was seen so we made that the next stop on our journey.

Actually the boat is VIRGOS CHILD.  We met Terry and Elaine on our trip up the coast last winter and had some wonderful times in the Whitsunday's.  They sailed around the world a few years ago and knew people that we know.  Small world.
Minion Falls from the plane
They live just south of Byron Bay so it was a short drive from the Sunday market.  We parked the 'campa' in their driveway and had a nice day catching up and walked to the beach for some body surfing.  Drank too much wine that evening and left the next day for the two hour drive back to the Gold Coast for dermatology appointments.   The goal was then to get as far south as possible.

Elaine, Cooper, and Terry
Woody Head......
Our first National Park campground.  Very full and heaps of families with kids.  Great location outside the town of Iluka.

The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour

View of Crescent Head from Anne and Al's deck
The SAGITAIRE's.....
We stopped in to see Al and Ann from SAGITAIRE and ended up staying for 2 days.  Crescent Head is a cute surfing town half way between the Gold Coast and Sydney.  They live on the hillside overlooking one of the best surf spots on the coast.  What a view, and a great house.

Al and Anne's House

Sjani and Colin at Lemon Tree Passage

The SHIKAMA's.....
We stayed with Colin and Sjani from SHIKAMA for the night.  Had a good happy hour with some of Colin's homebrew Irish Whiskey and pizza night.  They live in Lemon Tree Passage fronting a waterfront park with their boat moored right out the front door.  We did some morning bushwalking on the park trails and took off for Sydney at noon.

The plan was to go to Sydney since it was the next place south but is was Australia Day weekend and crowds don't really thrill us so we figured Sydney would have to wait for the return leg.

We made it through Sydney and about 2 hours south found a great camping spot at the Morton National Park just outside the neat little town of Bundanoon.  Hot showers and kitchen facilities for $14/night can't be beat.  That night we did a mile hike down into a big hole to see some Glow Worms.  Initially sounded like a dumb thing but turned out to be quite neat.   They are not worms but actually larvae that put out strings of lighted eggs that attract insects that they then eat.     

We then made it down to the coast but the holiday festivities had packed everywhere.  We stayed in an RV park in Milton and were in search of warm clothes since it was getting chilly at night.

The WENDY ELLEN's.....
Dinner Party, (Zak on Right)
We stopped at a few little coastal fishing towns and ended up at Zack and Suzies just north of the town of Tathra.  The last time we saw Ronan was in Fiji when he was 2 years old.  They live on a lake surrounded by National Forest and were having an Australia Day Party on Monday.  Australia Day is like our Labor Day.  It's the end of the summer vacation and most kids go back to school the following week.  So it is a big celebration. 
Wishing they were at the party
There must have been 100 people at the party.  Easily 40 kids.  Zack has a wood fired pizza oven and almost 50 pounds of flour were used to make probably 100 pizzas.  It was getting even colder and we went to Target for some more warm bedding.  It was late and we ended up camping just south of Eden at Boydtown.

Australia Day Party
Drove through hours and hours of coastal forest along the Southern Ocean and the Bass Straits and ended up at a church camp in the town of Tyre just outside of Lakes Entrance.  Town was vacant since school was almost in full swing.

We made it to the outskirts of Melborne the next afternoon and camped at Balnarring Beach on the Mornington Peninsula in order to position us to take the ferry from Sorento to Queenscliff where we would start on the Great Ocean Road. 

Suzie and the Joey (Tai)

Ronan and the Giant Cone

Balnarring Beach Access

The Sorento to Queenscliff Ferry
We did some morning exploring and took the noon ferry from Sorento.  Our first stop was the famous surfing beach, Bell's Beach.  After that we were winding for hours along the Great Ocean Road passing spectacular beach after beach.  We got a campsite at the Wye River foreshore and then drove to Kennett Creek to see if we could find wild koalas.  Well, we found'em, and King Parrots and Lorakeets too.

On the Sorento Ferry

Bells Beach

Wild sleeping Koala
Our last destination on the coast before heading inland was The Twelve Apostles.  We have never seen such incredible rock structures.  A few of the Apostles have fallen over but they are spectacular anyway.  We then headed inland toward Simpson and went to Apostle Whey Cheese where we did some cheese tasting and bought a few blocks.'

They liked our food better than the other people's
We wanted to avoid Melbourne so we found, the Treetops Scout Camp, an off season boy scout camp that only had 2 other campers.  Not counting the 100 kangaroos bouncing around.  We went to the Sunday Market in Gisborn and left for our longest driving day so far.  700km and ended back at Morton Park with the Glow Worms in order to position us for a morning arrival in the Blue Mountains.

Parrots at Kennett Creek
Eating Gum
The Three Sisters is in Katoomba and required viewing when in the Blue Mountains.  At least it seemed that way by the herds of Chinese tourists.  We figured we would take a short hike and 3 hours later after hiking 8 miles down in a rainforest valley and climbing easily 1000 feet of hugely aerobic steep steps, we ended up back at the van for a well deserved night in a hotel.  It really wouldn't have been have been fun in the campervan with the temps going down to 5C (40F) at night with cold damp rain.

Visiting Parrot
We were now in position to do Sydney the next day.  We drove to the seaside village of Manly and took the ferry in to Sydney.  It was a perfect sunny day.  We had lunch in town and got back to Manly late afternoon and went up the coast to camp at a prime surfing spot by the town of Narabeen.  We watched the surfers for a while and even though we didn't feel like any more hiking, we went bushwalking the coast trail the next day.

Not another surfing campsite.....
We drove to the Booti Booti National Park.  The surf was big but sloppy since the tide was low and the winds strong.  We sat and watched the ocean for easily an hour and had a noisy night at the campsite.  The early morning parade of surfer vehicles put a damper on any intention of sleeping in.

The Twelve Apostles
We were going to go somewhere up in the mountains the next day but ended up being invited back to Ann and Al's at Crescent Head.  That was nice.  We stopped at Port Macquarie for lunch, cooked dinner on the barbie and the next day went to the Trial Bay Gaol.  That's how they spell Jail in Australian.  The day flew and so we returned to Woody Head, Iluka that night.  The place was empty compared to when we stayed there 3 weeks prior when school was out.
East of Apostles

The next night was spent camping in the Lamington National Park.  1 hour down a narrow winding road was the campsite near O'Reilleys Guesthouse.

Three Sisters, Katoomba
From there it was an easy drive back to Tortuguita for a very comfortable night's rest.  We did some small errands and left the next morning to bring the mainsail 2 hours north to the Doyle Queensland sail loft in Caloundra for some modifications.  There were a few possible campsites in that area to spend our last night at but they all turned out to be dumps.  We were used to pristine, quiet, back to nature, park reserves and to find one, we drove an hour west out to the Nerum Bush Retreat.  Well worth the drive.

We stopped in Brisbane and visited the Botanic Gardens and returned the van that afternoon. 

Sydney Harbour Bridge
28 days, 5820 kilometers, 500 liters of Petrol. 
Aussie Camping Trip Complete!!!!

Sydney Opera House from the Ferry

Opera House from the park

Surf 'Break'?

Booti Booti Beach

Cookin' in the Campa'

Trial Bay Gaol

The Giant Prawn in Ballina

Lamington National Park

Stinson Trimotor that crashed near Oreilleys

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