Tuesday 31st December - NowraWell after a mild night of 19.6 it reached a scorching top of 44.2. They predicted a scorcher and they weren't wrong. I think it's the hottest day of my life. At about 12.30 the air con gave a noisy shudder and the compressor turned off. Boy did it heat up in here quickly. Clive got out the big fan and turned off the air con as it was only blowing hot air around. About 15 minutes later he turned it back on and it is working again. Mind you, we are asking a lot of it today in this heat. Maybe the shutting off was a safety thing. There are now fires in Batemans Bay, which is where we are heading next. Outside the sky is just smoke. A very dry hot heat. The cool change coming from the south is blowing all the smoke north, our way. Lots of sirens going off this morning. When Clive went shopping he saw a few fire engines heading south. On the news he heard that some were coming from Sydney, so the fires south of us must be getting worse. It's meant to drop to about 25, so a drop of 20 degrees. Around 4pm a freezing change came through and at night, I am now wearing a cardigan and have a blanket over me. I think I need some slippers. Now the main highway south of Nowra has been closed, so we aren't going anywhere for sometime.
Monday 30th December -NowraA cool night going down to 16.8 and upto a hot 34.2 during the day. We drove to Berry today, but couldn't find a place to park as it was very busy and also very hot. The main street was just packed with cars as were other side streets. It is a very pretty place that reminded us of Mt. Tambourine. It has that sort of feel about it. We then drove onto Shoalhaven Heads which has a lot of caravan parks, but nothing else. We drove past Mt. Coolangatta and around the Coolangatta Winery. No tasting or sampling as again, the car park was full. Driving back we saw a 'cherries for sale' sign, so stopped by the road side and bought a kilo of them for $20.00. Very nice. Back home to the van to put the air con on. The old Jeep has finally been sold. The money has come through, so we can arrange for collection of it. One less problem to worry about. We hope that the new owners will be happy with her. They are warning of the scorcher for tomorrow, and then it drops back to about 25, so we must be getting a nice cool change. It was so smoky on the way to Berry. Certainly the worst we have seen so far. The fires are now spreading along the south east of Victoria. This is where was want to follow the road around in the East Gippsland area. Not good. So far the park has been very quiet and peaceful, which is good for a change. They have a heap of land at the front of the boom gates and this area has quite a few people camping as well. Very happy here.
Sunday 29th December -Nowra17.5 overnight and a warm 31.5 during the day. It's an easy day today of reading, relaxing and more reading. I know it's a tough job, but someone has to do it. It was meant to be a real scorcher today, but this has now been moved to Tuesday, New Years Eve. The news reported that people going to the Shoalhaven area, (that's where we are), should re-think their plans and avoid the area. Oh well, we are here now, so if and when we have to go we will take heed of the warnings and do what they advise. At night we see lots of Christmas lights where people are staying or live in the cabins. It is so pretty. We will try and get some photos. Off for a drive to Berry tomorrow. I have only ever driven through it, but it looks like a very quaint town.
Saturday 28th December - Werri Beach to NowraA high of 35.7 and a low of 19.7. A couple of German ladies are next door in a camper van and Clive asked them if they could pull their van forward so this will help us get out easier. They said it would be no problem at all. Anyway, Mr. Have-a-chat was talking with them. This is their third trip to Australia. They come back every two years and this trip they are doing Melbourne to Sydney. They've already done Brisbane to Cairns and Perth to Adelaide. The next trip will be Perth to Broome. Clive found some travel DVD's of Broome and their next trip to give to them and they were over the moon. They said that they will be taking them back with them to make their friends jealous and can't wait to come back again. We left Werri Beach at 10am and had a good run on the highway, but it was so smoky. We arrived at Nowra just after 11.We have an easy drive in spot. Nowra is south west of Werri Beach, so no lovely cool sea breezes, just hot. Later on in the day I was wilting, so the air conditioned got turned on and it worked first go. Thank you Lord! We are here now until the 6th January and the heat wave conditions are predicted over the next few days. Come on winter. Looking at the maps and brochures, there are a few short drives from here that we'll do, as well as seven murals in town to see on their Mural Trail.
Friday 27th December - Werri BeachAnother nice day, but it turned blustery in the afternoon. Weather was similar to yesterday, with a low of 17.9 and a top of only 27.6. Due to the winds we took the awning down. I'm not sure as to how we'll get out of this sardine tin tomorrow, but I have complete faith in Clive as we'll be heading to Nowra for 10 days. We went to the Kiama Blow Hole as Clive has never seen it. People everywhere. It wasn't blowing as the seas were too calm. A bit of a disappointment really. So off to the Little Blow Hole. I didn't know this one existed. Clive had read about it in the brochures. This one was better. The spray from it was reaching back into the car park where I was. Clive got caught by it as did all the other people standing right in front. From here you can look across the seas to see the Kiama Lighthouse and this is where the Kiama Blow Hole is located. We then drove around Kiama for a bit, and I took lots of photos. On the way back we stopped in at Mt. Pleasant Lookout. Clive went for a walk down Werri Beach to the headland. On the way back in the park, he noticed that they do wood fired pizzas. Only $10.00 each, so that's me sorted for dinner. The big tents, really huge tents, are put on by A Christian Group that run a school holiday program for children. They have different activities during the day and night. Even some free breakfasts and a Mass one day. So that answers that questions about the tents. We now have people in a tent about 2 metres behind our van. Why they didn't put it further back is beyond me. No sense. It now means Clive will have to adopt a plan B for getting us out.
Thursday 26th December - Werri Beach19.5 last night and upto 27.0 today. We hope that our family, friends and loved ones had a wonderful day yesterday. We did as we celebrated our first Christmas in the van. So it's Boxing Day today, and we didn't go to any sales. We just stayed at home and recovered from all the eating. Not that we really ate a lot, but we certainly had sufficient. Not even any pictures today. It's 8.30pm and our part of the park is pretty full. Lots of tents about and some big vans too. The couple next door can't get TV reception, even with this very expensive aerial they bought in Foster. Clive explained about the TV points near the power, as this is how we have our TV currently working. They don't have the right cable, so will visit Bunnings next time they go out. I said to Clive to tell them to try the office, as sometimes they have leads to the aerial points. Yes they did, so we have done our good deed for the year and they were very happy. $10.00 refundable deposit when you return the cable. We did some washing and watched more vans reversing in. We probably need to get a life. Clive spoke with the girls and their mother put photos of them in their new dress on FB, but of course only mentioned that Clive had bought them and thanked him. Apparently, I don't exist, as per usual. We are still planning to visit Kiama tomorrow and next week they are forecasting another heat wave. It's pretty windy tonight as our door keeps slamming due to the wind gusts.
Wednesday 25th December - GerringongJoyeux Noel, Frohe Weinachten, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Feliz Natal, Wesolych swiat Bozego Narodzenia and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family, friends and loved ones. We had over 6mm of rain last night. Just steady rain that has soaked into the parched soil. I've no doubt that the dried grass will start to turn green over the next week. Hopefully this will have helped the fire fighters. You have to feel for them. It was 17.3 last night and a fine 28.3 during the day. It was a pleasant day, but no doubt it will get hot again and then the test will be for the air conditioner. We can see SA is starting to warm up again. Clive went to the 8.30 Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church. Originally, this was a wooden church built in 1864, and was replaced by a stone church in 1880. This was then more than doubled in size in 1995. The majority of the glass windows were re-used from the original stone structure. In the new part of the church there is a sun and moon, round stained glass windows. These were donated by the family whose two sons were killed in a car accident. The window behind the Alter is a new one built for the church extensions. Outside the church is a memorial garden that is the resting place of the Parish Priest, V.R. Dean M.P. Malone. He was the PP here for 55 years. The views from the gardens to the sea are beautiful. We had a quiet Christmas day, with prawns for lunch followed by cherries for me and a mango for Clive. Afterwards some cheese and biscuits. Sounds a bit too healthy for us. Roast chicken and vegetables for dinner. We were going to buy a chicken from the IGA, but were told that if you haven't pre-ordered then there was none spare. Still we made do as we have plenty of food and did not over indulge in either food or liquids. We're planning to go to Kiama on Friday, to see the blow hole which Clive hasn't seen before. Trying to stay off the roads for a few days as there will probably be traffic everywhere. Clive bought me "Downton Abbey The Motion Picture' so that will be our entertainment tonight. This film cost around $20 million to make and as of December 20th had already grossed $190 million. Not a bad return on your investment.
Tuesday 24th December - Bulli to GerringongWe're off to Gerringong today. We're actually staying at Werri Beach, which is adjacent to Gerringong. It's only about 56km form Bulli, so a short drive. Down to 19.2 and back upto 23.7. We arrived at Werri beach Caravan Park without any problems. No road block and no fires, but PLENTY of smoke about. You can even smell it in the air. This is a huge park with many different entrances. It spans both sides of the road and over three quarters of it is on site caravans and cabins. High season and Christmas so it's $70.00 a night. Oh well, we got a free pen and sticker of the park. Our site - well what can I say. It's just big enough to put our van on and the car is part on the road and part on next door. Due to the electricity pole being about a metre into the site, you lose that along one edge. We'll just have to see what happens. We're on site 3 and site 4 is directly behind us. So how do they get in, as there is no vehicular access if there is a van in front, like we are. Must be for tent sites only, but where do they park their cars. Could make for some entertainment if the park fills up. The amenities block is a fair distance away from us. They really need two on each side of the park. Apparently it is owned by the council. No TV reception, but they have a point that you can connect into. Clive got the satellite dish out to set up, but then a long van has pulled into the next spot and blocked any chance of reception via the dish. Plan B. Tried to re-position the dish but no go. We can't seem to win today. Back to the TV point next to the power. The TV works brilliantly on the Top Cat, our PVR, but on the TV this just beaks up and we can only get channel 9 clearly. Go figure. The problem with the satellite dish is that the elevation for our current location is only 49 degrees. In Queensland it was in the mid 60's. We also have this huge hill in front of us that's not helping at all. It's a bit on the cool side today with finally some rain that started around sunset.
Monday 23rd December - BulliOvernight was 16.0 degrees and only 23.3 during the day. It was another mild day, but not as cold as yesterday. It's probably the wind that is making the difference. Clive helped our twin van next door put the awning out. Showed them how to do it correctly. Apparently they only bought the van a few weeks ago, so they are still learning, as this is their first van and they are trying to find their way around it. They can only run the hot water service on gas, so Clive explained about the plug that is under the bed and needs to be turned on. He also helped someone reverse in, as the wife was on crutches with a broken leg from an accident in Cooktown. We may have sold the Jeep, but we'll see. It's a no go. This guy has been messing us around for 3 weeks now and we are over him! Move onto the next person as we have been putting people off because of him. Not good. Clive went for a walk down the beach today. Still quite smokey. I went for a short walk around the park today and we ended up at the kiosk. Time for an ice cream for both of us. Delicious.
Sunday 22nd December - BulliJust for a change it was freezing today. Ugg boots on, long pants, cardigan and probably the crochet blanket tonight. It got down to 17.7 last night and upto 24.7 during the day. As the week goes on it's meant to warm up. We were woken up at 6am by noisy neighbours, in tents. They were talking at the top of their voices. Some people really have no consideration or thoughts for other people. Clive went off to 8.30am Mass at St. Josephs this morning. He said it's an interesting church, but nothing special about it. They do have some nice stained glass windows in the Chapel area. In the afternoon, Clive went for a walk down the beach, south, today. They have another swimming pool built into the rocks. It's at a place called Collins Rock. They also have a look out here and a memorial to Captain James Cook. This is near the spot where he attempted to land on the 28th April 1770. This ended up not being successful, so he continued on towards Sydney Cove . The rest as they say, is history. On the lookout, they have different pictures of Cook, done in mosaic tiles. There is also pictures on top of the wall depicting events that have happened in Bulli through the ages.
into the rocks.
Captain James Cook
from the monument.
Saturday 21st December - BulliToday is meant to be a scorcher. A low of 18.6, but it only managed to reach 28.6, thanks to the high change that came through early and the smoke from the fires that didn't clear all day. We started the day on the wrong foot. It was meant to be a scorcher and when I woke up about 10.30, I asked Clive to turn on the air conditioner as it was smoky and stuffy. Next I hear him say, "That's not good". You guessed it, it wouldn't turn on. He checked the circuit breakers and re-set them and still no luck. Thanks to Google he found a mobile caravan man who came about 30 minutes later. He tested it all and said that there was no electrical fault he could find as power was going to all the right places. $60.00 cash later, we had resolved ourselves that we would need to get this unit replaced as it seemed to have given up the ghost. Several phone calls later it seems that everyone has shut down for the Christmas period and will not open again until 6th January 2020. I commented that it's a good thing we are not at war as everything will be put on hold for holidays. Anyway, it was getting the better of Clive, so he decided to rotate the on/off power knob and Presto, it kicked into life. He stopped and re-started it a few times and it works. Hopefully when next we need it, but at least it looks like cool weather where we are going until the New Year. The cool change really hit about 5pm with seriously gusty winds - upto 90km/h. We ended up taking the annex down as it was being lifted by the winds and the van buffeted from side to side. This made a huge difference. Watching the news we learn that the south road to Batemans Bay has again been closed. Also the Hume Highway, which is the main road between Sydney and Canberra. We can at least get to Nowra currently which is where we'll spend nine days and the New Year. At least we are all safe. Next to us is another AVAN. It's a Eurostar 609, which is the same model as ours. Clive better not drink to much that he goes to the wrong van. The park is pretty full tonight. Due to the size of the sites, vans are parked in all directions. Some of the tents that have been erected are just enormous. The couple behind us book five adjacent sights every year for three weeks at a time. They only live an hour away from here. So far it's not too noisy considering. It started raining after nine, so Clive went and put the awning up. Just a few drops to make the car really dirty and not even really wet the ground.
Friday 20th December - BulliA lot cooler today compared to yesterday with a low of 17.2 and a top of 31.4. Tomorrow is meant to be catastrophic, as we are seeing more and more fire warnings and fire bans are in place. We went for a drive today to Wollongong to buy stuff for the car, yes I said the car! We bought some power steering fluid, as it needs topping up. Seems the comments Clive has read on the forums, that the Jeep 'uses' some even though there are no leaks present. Clive also bought some leather protector and car wax. Now the important stuff was done, we had a drive around 'The Gong', going past the old Chariot Office on Market Street. From here it was down to the Marina and to the Lighthouse on Wollongong Head, where you can get magnificent views of the Coast. There was a Mr. Whippy van here, so guess what? We enjoyed an ice-cream while enjoying the view.
Thursday 19th December - BulliWell I woke to a very smoky morning. Clive told me it had reached 38.8 by 11am, which was our high for the day. When Clive got up at 7am it was only 23 and you could not see the sun from all the smoke. It's everywhere and will hopefully clear once the wind picks up this afternoon. They said that a cool change should come in about 3pm.
Wednesday 18th December - BulliA cool night of 16.8 and a top of 26.5. A pleasant day but they keep saying that tomorrow will be heatwave conditions. We can see that in SA temperatures are in the mid 40s, so certainly hot there. We did the tourist thing today and drove along the coast road to the Sea Cliff Bridge. What a beautiful section of roadway. You have all probably seen this bridge if you watch TV. A few new car adverts are shot here, with cars going along the bridge. An amazing experience with lovely views. I know that Clive enjoyed it too. I had a walk along the bridge too, but not the full length of it. There were others that had parked at either end of the bridge and were walking it. There was even two tourist buses, so certainly a popular spot. I never realised how pretty Bulli was and some of the small towns on the way here. I have only ever driven straight through it to go further south. Back home for a late lunch and Clive to get the blog upto date and then some reading. A wonderful day.
Tuesday 17th December - Bateau Bay to BulliDown to 15.3 and back upto 25.2. The wind has died away, so it should make for a nice day to travel. We left about 10.30 to head to Bulli, via Bankstown, Heathcote and finally the dreaded Bulli Pass. Yes, it was as bad as I remembered it. A good job we didn't come across any trucks on the one lane parts. If you haven't done the Bulli Pass then add it to your list. The road basically drops from the top of the mountain range down to sea level. A drop of 283m over 2.5km. It has a gradient of 14 percent in places. We were glad to get out of traffic. Stop, start, stop, start. We're not used to that and also the thin lanes. They were just wide enough for the caravan. This coupled with trucks and cars made for some prolonged concentration. Our park is right at the bottom and backs onto the beach. More waves to listen to. Just lovely. The Bulli Beach Tourist Park is $346 for 7 nights. This is due to school holidays, high season and Christmas. It can't be helped as we have to stay somewhere and if the weather is going to turn hot, then I like the aircon. There is also a kiosk on the edge of the park that does take away and dine in food. There are also some nice tourist drives from here, so plenty to do. On the way here we heard a "hello Gypsy", so we answered. We then proceeded to have a chat about our van. Turns out he wants to buy one like ours, so was asking age, price, how much new and any other features. He finally welcomed us to Sydney and said that we got a bargain with our van. He'll just carry on dreaming and saving.
Monday 16th December - Bateau BayPretty cold and blowing a gale today. We are both rugged up in warm clothes, while Brisbane hit a top of 41 degrees. Crazy. Clive went for a walk along the beach. The wind was so strong it blew off his Akubra Hat and he ended up chasing it down the beach. He said it was quite funny in the end, as it was just rolling along on the edge being blown by the wind. Luckily he was able to catch upto it before it ended up in the water. He said that it wasn't a pleasant walk as he was sand blasted as he went along. Even the sea gulls were hiding behind the seaweed trying to get some shelter. The Blue Lagoon Beach is a lagoon type beach that is protected by a rock reef. The reefs lie about 200m offshore and extend from Shelly Beach in the North, rejoining the shore at the wide southern platform. The Blue Lagoon Beach is about 400m in length. At least the car got a nice wash and another blanket was finished. Off to Bulli tomorrow. A trip of about 160km.
Sunday 15th December - Bateau BayLow of 21.2 and a top of 27.2. Very pleasant. A bit warmer but not over the top. They are predicting Thursday to be the hottest day of this week. A lazy day for us today after a busy last two days. Clive copied some songs from the computer to a USB, so that we can play them during our drives and then found out that the car stereo won't recognise them. Not happy.
Saturday 14th December - Bateau BayA warm night of 21.2 and a top of 30.2. Must be the cloud cover keeping the nights warm currently. Off to have lunch today with my brother Tony and his wife Margaret. It's been a few years since I last saw them. We have lunch at a café that is connected to the Ken Duncan Art Gallery. Lunch was delicious and we had a great chat and catch up. After lunch we had a look around the gallery. Some very nice photographs for which he is well known and also some on exhibition by Ray Martin. Then back to Tony's for another brief chat, collect our mail and then back home for us and a sleep for me. Clive bought me some books and also had other mail delivered, so there was about 10 parcels in all. Clive is making a curry outside tonight on the new portable double cook top. Oh yes - Did I mention previously that we had misplaced the marriage saver for our satellite dish. It was not at Michael's and Clive assured me that he had emptied the car and checked thoroughly. Well we had to empty the back seat for Tony and Margaret to use and he comes into the van holding a bag of books and the 'lost' marriage saver. Seems that he moved every other bag except this one and it was right underneath it. We had bought a replacement that was delivered to Tony's, so now we have two of them. Oh well, one may break one day.
Friday 13th December - Bateau BayOnly 19.0 last night with a to of 25.8. Still on the cool side for Clive but I don't mind this weather. After a BIG sleep in, ( I think that the past few weeks of travel caught up with me), we made our way to my mum's gravesite at the Palmdale Memorial Park in Ourimbah. Just as we were leaving Clive called into the office and asked where the closest florist was. Clive had remembered that ages ago I said that I would like to get some pink roses to lay there.. He bought some beautiful pink roses and then we were on our way. Garmin found it easily, actually a lot quicker than I did back in 2005. The office was open, so they gave us a map of where she was located and bingo, we found her straight away. They have little plastic vases in bins here that Clive spotted, so he went and got some and filled them up with water. Some pliers from the tool box in the car and he cut the stems down and put then into these vases. A great idea rather than just lying them on the ground. It was lovely to be able to spend a bit more time here this time, as in 2005 the sun was setting and we were in a hurry. As we drove back we saw teddy bears sitting on a bench. One wonders what their story is? Then off back home for a sleep for me. The weather is still really good with a nice cool breeze.
Thursday 12th December - Blacksmiths to Bateau BayNow for those of you reading along, you will notice that the blog has not been done for nearly a week. This is mainly because of the single nights we have had since the 6th December, so Clive's job today is to get this upto date! Still A coolish day with a top of only 23.1, (Relative Humidity 88%), and a low of 18.4, (RH 68%). Still had the knee rug again last night and Clive had socks on. We were woken up at 6am this morning by the kids from a few doors down. One of them was crying and the other just making a noise, and then one came over and started banging on our van. Seriously, they need to put in their rules and regulations about excessive noise from children. They stress about non-tolerance from adults having parties, drunkenness etc., but children can be even more bothersome and loud at times. They all ask about barking from dogs, which is probably as hard as training some children! Lets face it, banging on our van is a bit over the top. Oh well - rant over and time to move on. We're off to Bateau Bay and the trip was a good one. It basically took us off the main highway, onto the ring road travelling south-west, but on the way to The Entrance and Gosford. A few tight corners and narrow roads, but all good. Upon arrival one of the workmen guided us in, but rather than reverse he said to take the next street and drive straight through. Very helpful. We are right on the end of the row, closest to the beach. The only problem we can see is the van opposite us has 5 bikes and a baby seat. Possibly more children and lots of them? We will see where this leads to. Hopefully not as bad as the last place. The oceans views are really lovely, especially being this close to the beach. WE had booked this a few months ago due to the holiday season, hence our need for the tight schedule as most van parks have a no refund policy and it's difficult getting sites at this time of year unless you have pre-booked. For those not on Facebook, Clive has been taking photos of the view from the toilet seat, which is at the back of the van. Some friends on FB have suggested making a book - titled "Views from the Loo". Any other suggestions welcome, but I don't think it will happen somehow.
Wednesday 11th December - Bulahdelah to BlacksimthsA mild night with 18.5 but a cold day with a top of only 23.7 This park is near Swansea. We took the ring road, thus avoiding Newcastle itself, but still plenty of traffic on the roads. We are not used to this. Coupled with really narrow lanes and hills, meant plenty of concentration for Clive driving along. We are staying at the Blacksmiths Beachside Caravan Park. Again, we scored a drive through site and nice and level. We didn't even wind down the van legs today. There is a big sign here saying "Beware of sand flies. It's a really big park located between Lake Macquarie on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. This weather is really weir. Heatwave yesterday and only 22 today with a cool breeze blowing. I have a crochet blanket over my knees tonight and Clive has his flannelette shirt on. I think that the beany is going on next. Absolutely ridiculous, but at least it's helping the fire fighters.
Tuesday 10th December - Cundletown to BulahdelahA low of 18.5 but it did reach a scorching 42.5 during the day. It was HOT. Well they said that it was going to be a scorcher and they weren't wrong. The drive to Bulahdelah was along the highway that went through tree forested area. Plus with all the smoke around it made for a very unpleasant day. Driving everyday is far more tiring than having a few days here and there, even though we don't unhitch. Clive even had a sleep in the afternoon , which is unusual. Not a lot to see here. The van park is OK and not really big. We had a drive through site which was good. Off to Swansea tomorrow and then to Bateau Bay on Thursday for 5 days. Along the way for the drive here we saw plenty of fire burnt trees, so the fires have not been far away as there is also no vegetation left on the ground r leaves on trees. It's an eerie kind of feeling as there is still smoke hanging around too. I took some pictures of these trees as we drove. We are planning to head to Batemans Bay in the New Year. The road between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay has been closed for nearly a fortnight, due to the fires, but checking today this has been finally opened. In NSW they have an app that allows you to check all roads for roadworks or other things. This can also be done at www.livetraffic.com
Monday9th December - Laurieton to CundletownA warm night with 21.3 and upto 28.8. Good weather for driving. Another coolish pleasant day, but they are still saying that tomorrow is going to be hot. An easy drive to Cundletown / Taree. We are staying at the Dawson River Tourist Park. At $35.00 a night it's a nice park with plenty of space. We are back onto the Dawson River, and as the toilet pictures show, only about 4m from the edge. Very nice views. We were greeted by a chatter box as soon as we pulled in. Clive was trying to set up and all this lady wanted to do was chat. She's been travelling by herself for quite a while. Sold up her house in Brisbane and now spends all her time on the road. She has one daughter on the Central Coast and the other is in WA, so she commutes between both as they don't come and visit her. Pity we are only staying here one night, as again we have stayed hooked up, so no chance for any sight-seeing. That's the problem with only staying one night in places, unless you are free camping. Still maybe one day we'll be back this way again. As with most van parks they are booked out for the Christmas period, except with a few cancellations due to the fires.
Sunday 8th December - LaurietonA mild 15.2 last night and upto 29.7 today. A nice pleasant day again. Clive decided he would like to go out and do some sight-seeing at the lookouts, as I don't like the look of them. I stayed here and read and off he went. First he went to Dooragan Nation Park. The look out here is up a very steep road, so I'm glad I didn't go. It's called the North Brother Lookout. The three Brother Mountains, North, Middle and South, are named after a dreamtime story of three aboriginal brothers who are buried where the mountains stand after they were killed by a witch. This National Park is Named Dooragan after the youngest brother. At an elevation of 487m, there are some spectacular views and various lookouts in different directions. As you can see in the photos all have different names. There is also a memorial to Simpson and his Donkey and Anzac Cove. In addition there is a memorial to Captain James Cook, who also named these Brothers Mountains as he thought they all looked very similar. There is also a pleasant wheel chair friendly rainforest walk. This walk looks out the other side of the mountain and the viewing platform offers completely different views. Back down the mountain and then to the Historic Camden Haven Pilot Station. First opened in 1878, there was a need to be able for vessels to safely navigate the Camden Haven and for improved access to the river. The pilot station was closed in the mid 1970s, and is today used as a guest house. From here he went to the Kattang Nature Reserve. This rutted track climbs to the Hamey Carpark. You can then go on foot if you like, but the views from the car park are just great. Looking along the point you can see the ocean and beaches one side while on the other is the river and oyster leases. He did go to another national park, but this was closed due to the bush fires. Meat and cheese pie for dinner for me while Clive had a pastie and four bean mix.
Saturday 7th December - Macksville to LaurietonMust be the wide open plains, as it got down to 13.8 last night. It's going to be a cooler day, as it only reached 29.8 today. A couple of hours driving today as we head for Laurieton. It's about 123km from where we are. We left just after 10 and arrived just after midday. An easy drive along the double lane Pacific Highway. A lot cooler today too, as I didn't even need the van AC on. We are here for two nights at the Laurieton Lakefront Caravan Park. It's only $25.00 a night too. We're allocated a spot at the very front of the park, which can only house about 6 vans. It's in between the main road and the rest of the park. Clive went for a walk around there and lots of vans and cabins. The place looks a bit run down and could do with a tidy up. Clive discovered that it you want a shower then you must pay for it. Still, where we are is not too bad, clean and tidy and there is only us here. Still a lot of smoke around, and they are predicting high 40's for Tuesday. Not looking forward to that. The local Chinese Take Away does Duck in seafood sauce and also egg and ham roll with plum sauce. Looks like Chinese for tea tonight. Clive went to the evening Mass and then got tea on the way home. It was delicious. Duck for me..YUM.
Friday 6th December - Woolgoolga to MacksvilleA cool 15 degrees last night but a warm 34.3 today. We're off to Macksville today. Lots of one night stop overs for most of next week until we get to Bateau Bay where we will spend five nights. We're staying at the Nambucca River Tourist Park. The other side of the road is the Nambucca River and they also have a boat ramp and jetty here if you fancy a bit of fishing. We are on the new highway ad went through Coffs Harbour on the way. A moving phot of the Big Banana as it's pretty hot outside of the car. The drive to Macksville took just over an hour and it's going to be a scorcher all over the country today, not just where we are. Lots of bushfires still out of control in NSW. We got here and it was 34 degrees. I sit in the car with the AC running while Clive gets the van connected upto power. He then goes inside and turns the van AC on, so that I can go in there and keep reasonably cool. This van AC is lovely. Not much to do here so we read most of the day. There is a gold course down behind us, attached to the van park and you can hire clubs it you fancy a hit. The park for the tourists is well away from the main park where all the cabins and permanents live. Still not too many people here yet, so it could be a quiet night. OOPS…we've parked in the wrong spot. We were supposed to be in number 7, but have ended up in number 10. Not to worry as there is plenty of room. So glad we ended up here and we would have had three vans close to us that came in during the day. One was a big motorhome towing a car and they left at 6.30am the next day. We've stayed hitched up tonight. A bit of a cool change came through about 5pm. Outside is really smoky and the moon looks to be a bright red, presumably because of all the smoke from the bushfires.
Thursday 5th December - WoolgoolgaAnother cool night of 15 degrees and upto 31.1 today. It's meant to be getting hotter over the next few days. We were due to depart today, but yesterday Clive got an offer to stay for an extra day at half price. As we have a few days spare still we'll do this as it really is great spot. Even though there is not a lot to do, we are so close to the beach and just listening to the waves is very relaxing. We can make the day up from somewhere else as the 12th of December is when we are first booked in. Very smoky today and it's quite warm. Another lazy day as Clive has seen most of the local attractions, with the exception of the Gurdwara Temples. He went to fill up the car and took some pictures from the outside. The Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, (The Temple of the Hill), is manned by volunteers and is open to the public. There is a large Indian population in Woolgoolga and each year they have a Curry Festival. This Curryfest originally commenced in 2006 and yes, we have missed it. It also turns out that the creek on the side of the park is actually a lake. It's called Woolgoolga Lake and the entrance to the lake is regularly blocked by a sandy berm. This style of system, is what is referred to as an Intermittently Closed and Open Lagoon or Lake. In 2013, due to lower flooding of properties adjacent to the lake, the council cut a channel to the sea, to lower the water level of the lake. Clive did the walk along it , that runs for about 700m one way. This walk comes out on the road about 400m from the edge of town. You can also cross the lake here and then this returns back to Safety Beach through one of the suburbs on the other side of the lake.
Wednesday 4th December - WoolgoolgaA nice cool night going down to 14.6, but back upto 30 during the day. A bit of a lazy day today. Clive did some grocery shopping and also had a look around town. He went up to the lookout on the headland and took some pictures there. I read and slept and then later in the afternoon he went for a walk along the beach, from Safety beach, to the headland and back. He was back just in time to make me a brandy. Clive is brilliant! He worked out how to fix the TV reception. While sitting outside he noticed that under the power box was a TV point. So he used the satellite dish cable from there to the van and presto. We now have TV.
Tuesday 3rd December - Evans Head to WoolgoolgaA cool night last night as it went down to 13.1 but back upto 31.5 during the day. We arrived at the Woolgoolga Lakeside Holiday Park, which is right next to the beach. I don't know why the 'Lakeside' as there is not a lake in sight. There's the beach running down the back of the park and a creek to one side. Maybe further up there is a lake but certainly not in seeing distance. It's a lot cooler here too. Must be the beach weather as windy today, but nowhere near as bad as the past few days. We had a good trip. This new car tows wonderfully. So smooth. We travelled on sections of the new highway they are building, as well as though land burnt by recent fires. Just over a week ago a section of the highway from Iluka to Woodburn was closed due to the fires. You can see from the pictures some of the destruction. The new highway will go from Ballina to Woolgoolga, and as you can see there is a huge new bridge that Clive didn't like. Even though we didn't use it as we were still on the old one, driving next to it was an experience. It looks so high. No TV reception as we seem to be in a black spot. Not too many TV aerials up in this park. Clive decided to put the satellite dish up so that we can watch a bit of TV as we are here for a few days, even though Home and Away has finished for the year. Where, oh where is the marriage saver. This is the digital tuner that helps tune in the dish and find the satellite. It's nowhere to be found. Clive checks the car and then started going through the cupboards in the van. Still no luck, so he rings Michael and asks him to look at home and check the spare room where our stuff is. Still no luck, so Clive basically empties the car this time and it's definitely not there. He remembers it at Michael's when he emptied the old Jeep. Nothing to do but buy another one as it's too difficult without some sort of tuning device. This will be shipped to Tony's along with other parcels we have bought. So, one day we may find it - or maybe not. It looks like a small TV so maybe someone took it. We'll listen to the waves breaking on the beach tonight instead. What a perfect way to spend the evening and go off to sleep.
Monday 2nd December - Hastings Point to Evans HeadYes you can have the weather again. Last night a warm 21.5 and upto 34.8 today. With the heavy rain yesterday and gusty wild winds it made travelling interesting. This was the first time we had the car and caravan combination together, so it was certainly a test for Clive. We originally had the awning out, but with the gusty winds shaking the van we thought it safer to pack it up. Clive went for a walk around Evans Head late afternoon. Well the beach is again across the road and if you head north then you can walk for miles along the beach. He went south towards the seaway entrance. There were a few surfers trying to catch a wave there. The water was really brown and looked dirty. We don't know if it's always like this or not. Following the seaway in, it eventually ends up at the marina, but he didn't go that far. Between the van park and the beach is a fenced off habitat that they are trying to rejuvenate and this is also home to some flying foxes. You can hear them calling at night. Along the seawall there are memorial plaques, we're presuming for people who have had their ashes scattered there. A bit further there is a carved rock Commemorating the Centenary of Federation titled Wooden Boats and Iron Men. This is quite amazing as it depicts history in a different form. This is a very large park, and one can only imagine what it would be like full up. Very noisy I might suggest. There's a tree with bits and pieces attached to it. Wonder what the story is here? We thought that we would have to be worrying about the bush fires but so far this doesn't seem to be a problem. The country is so dry at the moment and it's sad to see the cattle and livestock so thin with brown grass or no grass at all. We've seen lots of hay being carted around. We're staying at the Reflections Caravan Park. We joined upto their park program for free and upon joining you get a $25.00 discount to use when you want. So this night only cost us $15.00. You've got to be happy with that! The winds are really blowing again and not helping the bush fires down Shoalhaven way, where they have jumped the Pacific Highway.
Up the beach.
Sunday 1st December - Pimpama to Hastings PointA warm sultry day with the possibility of some showers. Well today we are about to hit the road again. So just after lunch we left, as the WDH towbar needed to be adjusted and rotated 180 degrees. Finally after 6 months and 17 days we have left the state of Queensland. A pleasant drive with a few spots of rain, until we got closer to our destination. Boy, did it rain. At one stage I couldn't see through the windscreen as the rain and gusty winds were so strong. Clive had slowed right down. Sadly nowhere for us to pull over, but we did arrive safely just as the down pour was finishing. Tonight it's the Hastings Point Holiday Park and we have a site that we can stay hitched upto. The beach is just over the road, but we can't actually hear the surf from where we are as we are at the opposite end of the park. Clive set both GPS units to the destination. Our portable Garmin plus the inbuilt one in the Jeep. It was quite amusing to hear one go off and then the other, as they kept changing who would comment first. Both got us to the correct destination as one had GPS co-ordinates set and the other the street address. Off to Evans Head tomorrow as lots of one night stop overs, as we need to make up for the extra week we had to spend on the Coast. We'll still have a few days up our sleeves just in case, but hopefully we are on track to keep to our plan.