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Monday, 15 August 2011

THE LAST POST


I finally had to tear myself away from the lakeside, the ducks, the beautiful tropical trees and plants, and head south, homeward bound. 

Stayed another night in Byron Bay. I was going to stay in the same caravan park at Suffolk Beach because I had enjoyed it so much, but decided that exploring something new is always worth a try. I set Matilda (the GPS) for another caravan park in Byron Bay and, as she does sometimes, she went haywire and I ended up in a different place in a dead end street in the heart of Byron Bay, one block back from Johnson Street (the main street). And right at the dead end was a beautiful caravan park. I went in and said to the lady on reception, “I didn’t see your caravan park in my caravan book.” She nodded and said, “No, we don’t advertise. We have just the number of people we want.” 

It was a beaut spot with excellent facilities and a walk along a bush track and over the railway line into the main street.  I knew Edna, Bob and Kate were holidaying in Byron Bay so phoned them up and invited them round to the Tardis for happy hour. We went out to dinner after that – lovely meal, good wine, good conversation.

Next day, I headed off to Jill and Andy’s place at Valla, just north of Nambucca Heads. Another lovely evening of eating, drinking and catching up. 

Onward to Port Macquarie where I booked in for three nights. Jenny and Gil live up in the mountain behind Port Macquarie at Comboyne, so I left the Tardis in the caravan park and spent  a lovely evening with them on their property. More wining, dining and conversation. Jenny cooked this simply delicious chicken dish for dinner. So good, I took down the recipe. 

From Port Macquarie, to Stockton, to a caravan park I had stayed in on the beach on another trip. It’s here I said goodbye to the ocean and headed inland for home. Instant climate change 65 kilometres north of Goulburn. From sunshine and warmth, I was confronted with a grey leaden blanket of cloud, the  temperature dropped almost ten degrees and down came the rain. 

I pulled into a fairly ordinary caravan park in Goulburn, no grass just dirt which by this stage was slippery mud. At least the sites were drive-through so I was able to leave the Tardis hitched to the car for a quick getaway. Nearly drowned setting up camp though in the pouring rain. Next morning, the birds were singing and the sun was shining.

I gathered momentum and reached Albury. Here I had a delightful two nights with a couple camped near me, we shared our wine and nibbles and solved most of the world’s problems. 

Finally, into Victoria, I ignored Matilda’s insistence to use the freeways and cut across country. She finally gave up on the “perform a U Turn when possible” and got with the program - a last pleasant drive through the hills and small towns. 

Home looked very sweet indeed as, with a flourish, I opened the garage door with my newly installed remote control. I had a wonderful time but it’s always good to come home again. I had a beautiful roast dinner with Kristel, Dan and little Bella and Cooper. Lovely to see them again. I had travelled 5,800 kilometres, met a lot of wonderful people, had a lot of fun, learnt new things and gained no weight. The latter more by good luck than good management.

I'd love you to leave a comment at the end of this post particularly if you haven't done so yet. Let me know what you thought of your vicarious travels with me. Just click on the number of comments shown below and this should take you to a page to write your own comment. I look forward to reading your comment.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

THE LADY OF THE LAKE

I spent a very relaxed five days in Maroochydor on the river.I had intended to go to Rainbow Beach but met with full house messages when I phoned the caravan parks there.  When I phoned a park in Maroochydor to see if they had any sites free, they said yes but it was at the back of the park near the lake and I'd be on grass rather than having a cement slab. I nearly fell about laughing. They were apologizing and I thought it was idyllic. Which it turned out to be. So here are a few photos.

Camped on the grass near the trees and lake

Looking into the lake near the Tardis

Looking across the lake with ducks swimming and the Tardis on the far bank among the trees to the left.


One of the many ducks on the lake but this one wans't black like the others. They don't show in the phto but there were enormous fish gliding past in the clear water.

The lake at my doorstep

A magical place

The view from my door




Sunday, 7 August 2011

HIGHWAY HAPPENINGS


Driving along the Pacific Highway, dreadful road, one lane each way, when I saw a man in the middle of the road waving his arms, trying to get the cars to stop. He was tall, had long fair hair and beard and bare feet. Just substitute the shirt and shorts for possum skins and he could have been William Buckley after 32 years living with the Aborigines.

 I wasn't in a position to take a photo of him so here's a picture of William Buckley instead so you'll have a good idea.

William Buckley in 1835

The cars ahead of me were skirting around him and driving on. I thought perhaps he needed help so I wound down the window and stopped.

“What’s the matter?” I called out to him as he came up to me.

“There’s a major accident on the road up ahead. Lots of cars involved. If you turn off at this road to the left you can skirt round it and get back on the highway,” he told me.

“Thanks for your help,” I said as he continued on trying to stop the approaching cars. 

The road he had pointed to had cars coming in and out of it so it wasn’t isolated. I took him at his word and turned down it. As I drove around the back of a small town, I could see across the paddick, dozens of cars, flashing lights and smoke pouring out of the chaos. I would have been there for hours ‘cause there is no way I could have turned the Tardis round once I had got into the line of cars. I guess the motorists who had dodged the wild white man were wishing they had stopped and listened. I said a silent thank you to him and made a mental note about judging book covers and books. The road brought me back on to the highway just on the other side of the accident and I was able to continue on my way.

About 20 km further on I joined a line of cars behind a ute towing a caravan. One by one cars managed to pass it when the occasional passing lane came up. When we would get to a passing lane the blighter would speed up so it wasn’t easy.  Finally, I was the one right behind the van; we reached a passing lane and the driver sped up again. I had had enough of it by then so I planted my foot and sailed past. As I did, I took a quick look to see what sort of an idiot drove like that. It was a young man busily keying in a text message on his mobile phone. I was glad to have him behind me.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Kilkivan Bush Camp

I’d never heard of Kilkivan but its claim to fame is the Great Horse Ride, held annually round Easter. They have over a thousand horses, riders and horse-drawn vehicles participate.  After the ride, there’s a grand parade, lots of celebrating and fun. Sadly it was cancelled this year because of the flood but was rescheduled for later this year. Now it’s been cancelled again because of the Hendra Virus which is killing horses and is dangerous to other domestic animals and humans. So the next Great Ride is now schedules for 31 March 2012.There’s a statue of a horseman in front of the town library to commemorate the ride. 



Our A Van gathering was held a couple of kilometres south of Kilkivan and five kilometres off the main road into the bush. Absolutely beautiful. A creek flowed through the area. Birds sang and called to each other. The trees were tall and straight.

Organiser Lindsay made me very welcome and he and co-host Jocelyn did a magnificent job of organising the event. I met some wonderful people and it was just a great time together.

 



The young couple running the bush camp, Antonia and Ralph, were delightful. They provided firewood for campfires, cooked a three-course feast for us in camp ovens and Ralph entertained us singing and accompanying himself on guitar after dinner. He even invited me to play and sing. 

Ralph and his camp ovens cooking up a feast - beef and pork
 
On Sunday morning they cooked pancakes for us and served them with honey, maple syrup, butter, whipped cream or jam. As many as you could eat. Ralph said, ”You eat them. We’ll keep them coming”.

We also went for a drive in the Mudlo National Park.
Elain, me and Ismay

Not far from the camp is the Prophet Mine run by John Parsons. We walked up to the mine and John and his son Johnno, took us on a tour and told us all about their work there. It’s not actually a mine. John is re-working the tailings and leftovers from a previous miner. He’s producing and selling gravel for roadworks, stone for building and decorative walls, topsoil for gardening and gold. He has set up a system for separating these various items from the mountains of rubble left by the previous miner.

John Parsons at the Prophet Mine
John and his son demonstrating with a couple of thousand dollars worth of gold


But what blew my mind was the revolutionary discovery he has been involved in with geologists and academics here in Australia and overseas. The microbiological process that reproduces gold. No, it’s not alchemy although it appears the alchemists may have been on to something. They have discovered nano-organisms that produce metals as part of their survival techniques. These discoveries may prove very beneficial in medicine as well as changing the way we view the Universe.  It appears possible that the whole Universe is organic in Nature. Now that’s pretty overwhelming. This is amazing stuff and no it’s not pie in the sky.  I suspect it went over the heads of most of John’s audience. I know I haven’t explained it very well but it is now documented in a number of highly reputable scientific journals. This visit to Prophet Mine was the highlight of my travels so far.

Meanwhile, back in the bush, I walked, read, wrote, chatted, ate, drank and sang. There’s nothing like a campfire to relax and soothe you. 

Just sit and gaze into it


Ismay even produced fresh strawberries and melted chocolate to dip them in. How civilised is that?

Ismay  serving fondu strawberries round the campfire


Ismay even had a go at baking scones in her camp oven. We took turns shaking the cream. Yes, shaken not whipped.

Bill shaking the cream, scones on the fire, Ismay in the background
Ismay and Bill with scones
 

Making music with Jack and Denise

One of the older men had been feeling low all weekend but on the last day he said he felt better and he got out his banjo. He and I had a great jam session and he really perked up. There’s nothing like music to raise your vibrations!!




Sadly the time to leave inevitably arrived. We said goodbye and headed home. Me – I’m heading south with over 2,000 kilometres to go.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

MORE ON MUDJIMBA


I had arranged to meet another woman from the A Van Club who also travels alone, and she lives in Mudjimba. I contacted Ismay and invited her out to dinner. We had lots to talk about and a lovely evening. We had also arranged to travel together (tagalong) to a “meet” of a newly formed branch of the A Van Club, who were meeting in Kilkivan, west of Gympie, for a bush camping weekend. That was great but we’ll get to that later. Also attending that “meet” were members of the newly formed single travellers group, lovingly known as the STGs. I just hoped it wasn’t something catching.

So Ismay and I set out with our vans, headed for Kilkivan. Kilkivan is a really interesting town in several ways as I was to discover. On the way, Ismay stopped at a lookout over the ocean near Coolum s I could take some photos. 

Veronica & Ismay at Coolum

There, quite by coincidence,  was an elderly couple that Ismay knew.
Spitfire pilot and truck driver
 
We got talking and I  learnt that he was a spitfire pilot in World War 2 for the RAF and she drove trucks for the RAF. I talked to her about the wonderful women who actually flew the planes to deliver them to the fighter pilots. I had seen a documentary film called “Spitfire Women” about these female pilots. They had to be able to fly every sort of plane because they had to deliver anything that needed delivery. One woman landed the bomber she had delivered and stepped out of the plane to be greeted cheerily with the question “Where’s the pilot?” When she told them she was the pilot, they just laughed and climbed on board looking for the male pilot, thinking it was a joke. But these amazing women flew the planes to the places they were needed and many of them died in the service.  Sadly, their story and their contribution is largely forgotten.

From that chance meeting at the lookout, Ismay and I continued on our way to the bush camp at Kilkivan. And there I had a great five days in the bush with some lovely people. More on that in my next….