Saturday, December 6, 2014

Burrum Heads.

We took a scenic drive today, Eileen wanted to visit the Drapers at Howard, it is called Van Cootes and is a little famous for its massive stock of quilting material and bits and bobs... anyway after spending an hour or so and willing our first grandchild Eileen came out with a lovely smile from ear to ear and a bag full of goodies.

And for the kind Ladies who asked for some pics of Eileen's Quilts, below is a sample of some of her work. Two are our first grandchildrens, the Oriental themed one is mine and the Victorian Ladies is a work in progress. Lots of hand sewing to finish this one or so I'm told.

As we had driven this far we decided to go the extra distance and drive out to Burrum Heads just to be able to say that we have been there.

Burrum Heads is formed by the junction of the mouths of the Burrum, Gregory, Isis and Cherwell rivers and forms a relatively large safe harbor with a narrow channel surrounded by sandbars to the sea.  Across the other side of the harbor is Woodgate where we are presently staying. 

The tide goes out quite a way and as I took Pepper for a walk we noticed that there were hundreds of Soldier Crabs running away from us and as we got closer they quickly buried themselves in the sand. Pepper was intrigued and just happy to chase them while silently above an Osprey quietly circled looking for something to eat... I think it realized that Pepper was a little too big.

Burrum Heads looking across to Woodgate.  After eating a healthy lunch of pies and cream buns washed down with a liberal quantity of coke we decided that Burrum Heads had little else to offer us and it was time to make tracks for home.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wannabe Wanderers Wonderful Weather and Warm Welcome at Woodgate.

After a pleasant and uneventful four hour drive from Scarborough we pulled up in the drive at the Woodgate Beach Tourist Park and walked in to reception. Hello Eileen! The lady behind the counter said to our surprise (most people get Eileen's name wrong at the best of times..Elaine, Irene, Arlene.), OK she obviously had our booking in front of her and I guess they don't get many Fivers arriving each day but definitely a thumbs up for making us feel welcome on arrival.

She handed us a Map of the park and showed us how to get to our site No 211 a drive through site and gave a little spiel about where everything was located and off we went to our site.  Drove straight in and were set up in half an hour.... easy peasy.

Although not quite to capacity, never-less the park was quite crowded mainly due to the Wide Bay A-Van Club which had around 30 A-Vans in attendance around a Marquee in the middle. It was their Christmas party and I believe that the Bowls Club did quite well that week end.

Our plan was to have four weeks of rest and relaxation and a little sight seeing as we felt like it. So far we have certainly achieved that.  Eileen has finished her latest quilt and has organised the design for the next one.

 I spent a nice day at the brand new Woodgate      Mens Shed helping to make a bench in the            welding and grinding room and chatting to the    ten or so members who attended the first day.

They are a friendly bunch of community minded blokes and I am sure that they will have a very productive and well equipped shed in a few years. They already have 13 life members and a further 80 odd names on the books... now to sign them up.

We have had many nice morning and evening walks along the beach and Pepper has had a ball.  We do, however, have a little problem with our little miss, we have discovered that she is a water baby and once in will not come out and has to be caught and dragged out on her lead. Not all that easy trying to pull a 36kg dog who does not want to come. Not sure how we are going to fix this issue, we have tried her in the surf and in the calm and she is the same in both situations.... the things we do for our kids...

The calm end of Woodgate is really quite nice and would be a great place for children as the water is not all that deep and the bed is fairly level. There are good amenities including outside shower and covered picnic areas.

All in all, we have had a most relaxing time here and will definitely return someday. Our night times are spent either reading, catching up with friends on Facebook or playing Scrabble or Mahjong with a glass of wine or whatever floats our boat.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Journey Home. Woolgoolga to Caboolture Show Grounds.

Well our shakedown trip has come to an end and I have to say that our report card would be just a pass.

On the positive side of the ledger, Eileen and I have become quite proficient at breaking and setting up camp.  Our damage control is fine as we have now found a place for everything to live while we are driving and thankfully the storage in the Tug takes care of a lot of the gear that doesn't normally have a home.

The Rig is a pleasure to drive for me and handles the road conditions with relative ease.  Of course we were both apprehensive about how the Tug would handle the steep hills and windy roads as we go through the mountains and I have to say that I am pleased with the ease that it meets the task, on the other hand I am still waiting for Eileen to open her eyes and give me her report on some of the wonderful views that I have seen along the way.  Like a fool, I listened to all of the arm chair experts on Facebook and decided at I shouldn't drive in 6th gear as it is an overdrive gear.... big mistake.... fuel consumption went from 13.7 lts per 100k to 17.3 lts per 100k.  Met another Iveco owner along the way and he said that it was BS and as long as you used the gears by the taco you wouldn't have any issues.  So it's back to 6th gear for me.

I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to reversing 14 meters of Rig into tight spaces but I guess that will come with experience.... well, it better anyway.

As we both need to know where we are heading and where we are setting up camp, this trip has shown both of us, just how difficult it is if you don't have a travel itinerary, well it is for us. I am sure that there are many people who can just drive and end up where they are and not worry about it.  But not me, I dislike sailing past poorly signposted turn offs and looking for sufficient space to turn a 14 meter Rig with safety.  We had a bad experience at a little town called Ulmarra in northern NSW, Eileen called for a comfort stop so we looked for the next 'lay-off' so that we could turn in and park and we dully followed the rest stop signs into a little dead end road. As soon as I turned the corner, I new that I had made a mistake, I pulled over in front of a toilet block in a very narrow street and almost as soon as I did about 3 more cars and two caravans followed us in - I was hemmed in and had to wait for them to leave before attempting to extract us from the predicament with a 10 point turn.  I hope that I never repeat that, although I'm almost sure that I will somewhere, sometime.

An interesting aside resulting from this error was that while Eileen was 'getting comfortable' I was reading the local historic notice board and noticed a little story about one Mr E Chowne. An extract can be read here.

While driving along and not having booked any stops we had decided to drive straight through to Caboolture Show Grounds for our next stop over as our next scheduled stop was in another five days back at Scarborough. This was our first unscheduled stop and was in reality a part of the test although we had heard that Caboolture Show Ground was not a bad place to stop.  Must have been our lucky day as we pulled up on a Friday with the National Barrel Racing Championships, A Circus, The Caboolture Markets and The National Bull Riding Championships all happening at the same time.

That night I went over to watch the Barrel Racing which was lots of fun with beautiful horses and cowgirls and cowboys of all ages competing.

 While my photography leaves a lot to be desired, I'm sure you can feel the atmosphere of the event and the thrill of the racing.

Saturday, I took Eileen for a drive along Toorbul Road (Now Pumicestone Road) in an attempt to show her where I had grown up as a 5 year old only to find that the acreage that we once lived on is now a massive housing estate. I really couldn't remember anything at all - what a difference 60 years makes.  We drove on to Toorbul and I took this photo of Toorbul looking across to the Bribie Island Bridge

Today (Sunday) is market day so we got up early so that Eileen could go and do some veggie shopping and have a look around while I took Pepper for her morning walk.  I don't think that she likes the other BIG dogs and she stays mostly at heal as we walk around.  The markets here are huge, as big as Chandler and as I had a casual walk around, I couldn't help admiring the dedication of the stall holders who pack their vehicles and drive to the Markets at ungodly hours in the morning (3 am) and set up their stalls, for the hordes of people who come in search of a bargain, only to pack it all up and take it home ready to repeat the exercise the following week end.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Woolgoolga - Dog Friendly and a Nice Place to Stay.

Eileen, Pepper and I are well rested now so we decided to do a little site seeing around the area.  First was a trip to Coffs Harbour which, I have to say, neither of us liked.  Definitely not pet friendly and, to be honest, just like any other busy town along the coast.  We are so happy now that we ran into the lady at Scarborough who advised us to stay at Woolgoolga as we feel much more at home here.

Looking across the lake to the park will give you a feel for the beauty of the area, just to the left of this photo and a short walk over the sand dune lies the bay and the headland.

The beach is quite level and the tide goes out a long way so the water is not very deep for a fair way out. Seems to be good for the Kite surfers and as I watched one the other day, I recon he went for about a hundred meters about 2 meters in the air,,, must have been a great feeling for him.

We have all thoroughly enjoyed our morning and
late afternoon walks along this beach, although Pepper is in the bad books at the moment for being a little naughty yesterday.

We decided to let her off the leash and she took off straight into the sea and she would not come back when we called so Eileen and I just walked away and left her.

Boy you should have seen the look on her face as we disappeared out of site and she thought she was being left behind.... she was after us like a shot.

Late yesterday afternoon as we were heading out for our evening walk, I heard what sounded like
children screaming and I looked around to see what was going on.

To my surprise this little fellow was high in the tree calling out to mum and dad to 'feed me'.

It is a Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo,  beautiful colours and quite large.

 That same evening as we came close to our camp spot, these two fellows were quietly feeding on the lush grass of the park.

They were not frightened of us at all.  Although Pepper wanted badly to go and play with them, they just kept a wary eye out for her and kept on eating.

Across from the park and along the side of the lake is an area of wetlands covered with large paper bark trees which were absolutely teeming with bats.  I don't know where they go at night but I highly suspect they visit the Banana Plantations which this area is quite famous for.

After our visit to Coffs Harbour we decided to drive into the hinterland to Nana Glen.  The drive immediately reminded me of the Montville/Malaney area and when we stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat, I asked the waiter if many bikes came up this way. He smiled and said on weekends there were hundreds.  I could see why... lots of corners. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Casino to Grafton to Woolgoolga

Leaving Casino today, so after packing up and hitching up, a quick visit to the dump site to lighten up for the journey ahead was in order and like everything else here, the dump site has easy access and is very easy to use.

We aimed the Tug towards Grafton and set off.  The highway was easy going and it wasn't long before we were cruising along admiring the scenery as it rolled passed.  Casino was billed as the "Beef Capital of Australia" and Eileen and I were both amazed by the number of properties along the highway that were for sale... obviously no money in beef and we couldn't help wondering if this was just another example of the Coles/Woolworths price squeeze on farmers as they vie for bigger profits for their shareholders (how dumb we are. there is no free lunch - someone has to pay).

It wasn't long before we arrived on the outskirts of Grafton and we were lucky to be there at Jacaranda Festival time.  The sight is breathtaking to say the least.  No matter which way you look there is a sea of purple and the tree lined streets are simply impressive. The towns forefathers certainly got this right when they decided to plant so many of these beautiful trees... I'm sure that this picture does not do the justice that seeing in person would.

By now we were looking for a service station as the reserve light had just come on, so into the next one we saw along the way.  $1.60 a litre  but what can you do.

As this is our shakedown trip we are learning a few lessons along the way.  Diesel is nearly always cheaper where you are than where you are going and you should never depart on a half filled tank.
Another issue we have is that so often we would love to stop at some of the towns we drive through to have a look around and break our journey a bit but when you are pushing 14 meters in length there is often just nowhere to park so you just keep going. Wouldn't it be nice if towns had a Van stop at the beginning of their business center. I'm sure some do, we just haven't seen one yet.

Anyway, back on the highway, we both agree that we must come back here one day to have a better look around.  Grafton to Woolgoolga was slightly better road wise than our previous stint and Murphys Law came to mind as I realized that every time we came to a divided road there was no one close enough to pass us but by the time we got to the end of the passing lane sure enough they would loom up in the mirror just as I had to put the indicator on and pull over in front of them.

The turn off for Woolgoolga soon came up and we slowed our pace and took in the township while looking out for our destination - Woolgoolga Lakeside Holiday Park.

It is a smallish park at the end of Lake Road and to be honest not really ideal for big rigs, lucky we are small and we were given a lovely site backing on to the lake and a short walk over the sand dunes to the sea side.

There is nothing quite like the smell of the sea air (except perhaps the mountain air), and we quickly set up camp in order to have a big lunch as all the driving had left us both starving.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Five Days at Casino Resort....

We came to Casino to see if it was the type of place that we could spend out twilight years once we have tired of travelling around this lovely country of ours.  Our report card would be read HR on most counts, in fact it would be difficult to find anything that we did not like about the Park except perhaps a little more relaxation on the dog rules. (but that's just us and we understand that not everyone likes dogs).

Upon arrival, the first thing that you notice is the large pull up area reserved for people booking in followed by the obvious security surrounding the Park. There are various options available for camping from un-powered to En-suite sites, drive through to private hedged sites ranging in price from $22 a night to $33 for an en-suite.  As we did not know the difference they suggested that we drive through, pick one that we liked and come back to reception after we had set up with the site number.  We did this and I am happy we did as the cheaper drive through sites were very baron with only a couple of young saplings for trees (no shade), we drove through to the older more mature section of the Park and chose a lovely long level drive through site with 2 meter hedges on either side and a short walk to the dump site and Office/Shop.

I have to say that the landscapers and ground crew do a marvelous job here even though it is dry everything looks so green and well kept and maintained.

The whole area that you can see behind the dam is an off leash dog area and Pepper loved her morning walks here.  The complex has its own sewerage treatment works and the water that is produced from this is used to water the nine hole golf course.  All other rain water run off is collected and directed to this dam for other irrigation purposes. Most of the trees that you can see have been donated by CMCA members and are labelled by the white pegs that you can see at their bases.

We decided to do the obligatory run to Nimbin to see how the hippies live and have to say we were not impressed. Everything was so dirty (even the Hippies) there was definitely an air of 'she'll be right mate' about the place. I have no problem with the relaxed lifestyle or to an extent being out of it (I have to admit to a period of this in my life), but for me, there is no excuse for filth.        

The people were very friendly and polite and several came up to ask if they could pat Pepper before they got in her face. (very unusual).

We noticed that there were people from overseas talking in their own language and enjoying the experience so it can't be all bad and it proves that being a hippy or alternate is a world wide thing.

We did a round trip to Nimbin driving from Casino to Kyogle and then up and over the range during which time I'm sure Eileen kept her eyes tightly closed (she suffers from vertigo), a shame really because the sights were lovely.  From Nimbin we returned via Lismore back to Casino a more leisurely drive .

Tuesday morning I spent a splendid morning with several of the Resort members at the well equipped Mens Shed. I was kicking myself that I did not bring my turning tools with me.

Could see myself spending lots of time in this environment.

But as life has it - all good things must come to an end - and we are off tomorrow to Woolgoolga via Grafton. A short drive and we will take our time and have a look around.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Scarborough to Casino.

Departed Scarborough CP at 9.00am and made our way to the Gateway Motorway and on to the M1 at Rochedale following this through to Nerang (by-passing Southport as it was Indy Weekend and lots of road closures).  The Rig was towing well and we were easily able to stay with the traffic flow, although the trucks seem to be able to pass with ease. I’m not sure who invented concrete roads but I would suggest that they should have set a couple of blocks around his feet and dropped him in a creek somewhere… they are atrocious to drive on and it is a huge relief when we once again hit the bitumen.

Crossed over the QLD/NSW boarder and apart for one short toilet break at a rest stop we aimed for Ballina. Fairly good road with a few short hills but all in all, easy going.  Took the Ballina by-pass and made our way to Lismore along the Bruxner Highway. This was a test and Eileen remained relatively quiet as we made our way up hill and down dale on a one lane road with lots and lots of sharp slow speed bends and quite a few little hamlets dotted along the way with 50K speed limits. I have to say that our Rig handled the test well and came out with flying colours. I now have extreme confidence in our road handling capabilities and this has to be a good thing. From Lismore through to Casino was an easy run and we arrived at our destination at 1pm.

264k averaging 13.71lt/100k or 7.3k/lt or 20.6 mpg.  Not bad for a 5.5 tonne rig.

Both Eileen and I have been looking forward to visiting the CMCA (Now Big4) Caravan and Motorhome Resort for some time and so far we have not been disappointed. Set up camp and took puppy for a walk to have a quick look see and then back home for a quick afternoon nap. Note to self:  Must remember to break journey into two parts and organise stop and rest areas otherwise 4 hours of continuous driving is a little taxing for this little vegemite.

Woke up this morning to the lovely serenade of the Currawongs and the other bird life that surrounds our camp site, I think I’m in Heaven. 


Eileen looks really happy and relaxed here and I hope I can keep this smile on her face for a long time to come.


Well we arrived at Scarborough on the 2nd of October 2014 after a five full on weeks of work setting up the Rig, Van and our storage shed after my retirement from work at Carba-Tec.

Scarborough is a lovely seaside town and our camp site was across the road to the beach, a fact that Pepper enjoyed every morning and afternoon as she her daily constitutionals. We had 3 glorious weeks there of rest and unwinding as we waited for Eileens Specialist appointments. All appears ok at present and we have a reprieve till her next appointments 31st March 2015.

We managed a few short trips around the local area, in particular a trip to Deception Bay a place that held several memories from my childhood. (amazing the things that stick in your mind)

I had remembered a story about a Doctor having carved out a couple of baths for his wife who had some sort of ailment that required frequent bathing in the sea water.  More about this remarkable man can be read here...

I also remember chasing the tiny soldier crabs that dashed across the sand flats before burrowing into the sand and disappearing.

We found out that the solar panel that we purchased to power our freezer was completely inadequate, I also found out that finding out about Solar on the Internet was a veritable mine field so after a quick trip to Springers at Capalaba and $1100 bucks later we now have a fixed solar panel attached to the roof of the Tug and our freezer is at -6 and the batteries are holding up on a daily basis. A quick trip to Aldi and we have stocked it up with food to last a month.

At night we have taken to playing Scrabble and we are finding that it suits us to have our main meal at lunchtime and light snacks for tea.  We are already planning the next trip to Casino and Coffs Harbour to see one of Eileens school friends. This trip is really a test trip to see how the new Tug goes and weather I have set out the storage to my satisfaction.

So as the sun sets over the yard arms in the boat harbor here at Scarborough , we lay our heads down for the last night in anticipation of our drive tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


It is amazing just how difficult it is to come up with a name for your Rig.  For weeks now Eileen and I have been compiling a list of names that we have thought about and just prior to our departure I suggested that we should choose one so that I could get them computer cut when I went up to Brisbane to get the Solar fitted.

We agonized over the list we had made and really weren't happy with any of them and as it would happen an add came on the TV for the musical, The Lion King and they were singing the song "Hakuna Matata' when I asked Eileen what did it mean? To which she replied, 'Don't worry - be happy.'   And that pretty much summed it all up for us. So without further ado, We present to you...



Friday, October 3, 2014

Bugger!!!!.... Measure twice cut once.

When will I learn?  Hitched up on Friday and to my utter dismay I discovered that there was not enough travel space in the inner arches to allow for rear axle movement.  I was sure that I had allowed sufficient distance but upon inspection I discovered that I had measured 110mm instead of 210mm.
Stupid mistake, which after much discussion about different solutions, I realised that the only way to truly fix it was to cut out the Inner arches and replace with new ones.  A quick call to Paul Burrows, my brother in law, who dropped everything to come out and measure up the required size of the radius for the rolled arch and by 10am Monday, the new arches were sitting next to the truck for fitting.
First thing Monday morning (6.30am) saw me out with the angle grinder cutting out the existing inners.  With the assistance of my other brother in law, Brian Cotgrove, we held up the new inners and scribed the new arc on the outer guards, from this line I was able to cut the outer guards to suit and then we could slide the inners in to meet the inner guards, scribe the arc there and then cut them out.  From there we held the inner arches in place and I tacked them in place.  This took till about 4pm ish to do both sides.  I had to have a shower (covered in grinding dust) and a change of clothes before continuing to fully weld the inner arches in. finished around 9pm.
Another early start on Tuesday saw me grinding the weld areas ready for smoothing up and primer.  Brian re-proofcoated the inner arches underneath and replaced the wheels and by 5pm that day we had replaced the hitch and hooked up to the van.... All was well even if we were then two days late for our departure.

Old Inner Arch

New Inner Arch

Thursday morning at around 11am, we went and said our 'good buy's' to all the crew at Carba-Tec and by 11.30am we were on the road for a plesant drive to our next destination... Scarbourough Holliday Village Caravan Park.
We set up camp with ease and sat down to relax for a bit, whereupon the previous weeks workloads caught up with me and I just had to sleep.

... So as the sun sets over the yard arms....

another chapter in Eileen and My lives is about to unfurl....