# 19 – Byron Bay

The blogging has kind of ground to a halt so I am playing catch up with this post on Byron Bay and our next one in Brisbane.

We finally made it to the east coast of Australia and got to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean.

So thrilled to have arrived on the coast and we had a few extra days up our sleeves so we slowed down a little. Which is only fitting for Byron Bay. What a chilled out place, and it’s infectious. It’s easy to go with the flow and succumb the influences all around you. Peace signs, LOVE seats, fit and healthy fabulous hippies, mediating and doing yoga in their undies.

We were keen for a feed of fish and to explore Byron Bay so the day we arrived we got the bikes down and rode into town for dinner. Vibrant and bustling, shops and restraunts galour. Quiet a change from where we had been and we are all a little excited by our new surrounds.

The caravan park was sensational, and we jagged a great spot only meters from the beach, with views. After initially booking in for 3 nights we extended another 3. Being put for a few days we got to catch up on a bit of schooling, washing, cleaning and planning, but it didn’t interfere too much with our Bryon business. That is the business of beach walks, sand castles, snorkeling, paddle boarding, bike riding, shopping, eating out, sunset watching, and reaching the most easterly point of the Australian mainland.

We attempted to catch the sunrise at the light house one morning. While we didn’t quiet make it before the sun greeted the day, it was a great morning, delivering great views, wildlife encounters (whales and dolphins surfing the waves), fitness, a sense of the bays history, reaching that most easterly point and unfortunately a couple of badly grazed knees and torn up leggings for Georgia.

A lot was achieved, all before breakfast. I think Lotte will cover more about breakfast. Byron Bay was just what we were all in need of. A break from the pace and a wee reward for actually getting away on this trip. No doubt there was more to see and do but we were just content with hanging by the van, the beach and short bursts into town.

We had caught some unusually high and low tides during our stay which provided a endless change of scenery. Fortunately the high tide fell during the night so we were soothed to sleep by the sounds of the waves crashing very close and by the morning a low tide revealed clear, newly washed and smoothed sandy beach to walk along. If you were really early you might have found yourself alone, bar the ever constant surfers. But by 7am the bay was teaming with beach walkers, runners or the early morning swimming club who on mass would walk the length of the beach (approx 3km) to swim back to town.

Seeing these fast and significant tidal changes along with the rocky reef, it was easy to understand how no less than 16 vessels had run aground here before the construction of the light house. With the challenges of building roads through the Great Dividing Range Bryon was a significant port of the movement of provision and wood up and down the coast. While the lighthouse is no longer manned it is still fully functioning and its lamp easily visible and beautiful to observe up close during the day.

As will all things our time here came to an end. Feeling sufficiently chilled out, it was time to head to the big smoke and brighter lights of Brisbane.

Lotte’s Lap of OZ

Hi there, it’s Charlotte here but I like Lotte. I decided I wanted to get involved in this whole blogging thing. So I will share with you all my perspective and interest of our travels . If you now me you no I love food (well most food anyway). So also decided to share all the amazing food we find, make and eat on our trip around Australia.

We have been in Byron Bay for four days now and I 💗 it. There are so many great shops and things to see and do and the beach is amazing.

On the day we arrived I remember running down the beach screaming, “this is paradise”. It was so tropical you’d think you were in a movie, definitely worth coming back. Not just for the view believe it or not the food is better than the view.

On our first night we went out to dinner at Fish bites food was lovely so were the staff.  The next place was Il Buco, a pizza restaurant, it was Friday night, pizza night. So good, I couldn’t stop eating.

Also there’s the place we keep going for ice cream after dinner. Amazing, all the ice cream is home made, best ice cream i’ve ever had (except for hides salted caramel ice cream).

This morning we went out for breakfast after the long and difficult walk to the most eastenly point of Australia, ok it was only 300 melters. All of the cafes staff were friendly and the food was amazing. Here is the best part,  it’s only a 350 meter walk up the beach from our van.

Last night we went to a Mexican restaurant and they had kids cocktails, so cute, and tasty. It took us a few nights to realise you need to get there befor it opens, otherwise in 5 minuets it would be packed no exaggeration

Lotte out.🦄








Camp # 18 – Warrick QLD

Overnight we had decided to make our way to Byron Bay and visit the most easterly point of Australia. This meant we needed to head due east and even head down a bit back into NSW.

The terrain had been changing gradually but the next two days drives saw us come out of dry dusty Australia into gradually greener, mountainous and even lush country.

Goondiwindi was our lunch stop, another bakery and this time the Apple Charlotte stole the show. Where has that been all my life!!!! A big town, so we stocked up on food, fuel and Ken got a hair cut. Hair dressers love to talk and Ken is relishing a chat with anyone. He is always coming back with some tid bit of useful information every time we pull up.

From here to past through more pastoral land and stayed the night at a farm just east of Warrick called Warrego Farm Stay. Lindsay the farmer was super friendly and drove us through his paddocks to park us right next to the Condamine River. It was very peaceful, quiet and cold! We got settled in in and dinner on when Lindsay arrived with a dozen fresh eggs from his chooks. And arranged for us to come up to the farm in the morning for the girls to see the calves feed and visit with the cats.

Lulu loved seeing the animals. We have read about them in books but up close was fun. The farm hands were an older couple travelling. Picking up farm work for accomodation and a little pay, they were delightful and generous in spirit and time. After an hour or so we piled in the car to make our way across the Great Dividing Ranges.

The Great Dividing is the third longest land-based range in the world. Running 3500km, the entire length of the eastern coastline. It is not a single mountain range, rather made up or a complex of many mountian ranges, plateaus, up lands and escarpments.

It was a windy but beautiful drive. I am glad Ken was driving this leg, roads were narrow and traffic was pretty heavy. We passed through some cute little towns and the level of suffocation is increase by the sight of some gorgeous looking cafe’s and shops. We stop at Woodenbong, just over the Queensland boarder back into New South Wales. Refueled and had the most delicious egg and bacon on turkish bread ever!

Making good time we made it to Byron Bay by about 1.30pm and scored a fabulous site at the caravan park with ocean views. And wow!


Camp # 17.01 – Thallon, QLD

Got myself a little muddled in the rush to get my last post published and I omitted the details of our days travel. And it was a slow day of travel but an interesting one so I wanted to still share it with you.

In the morning we crossed over the NSW / QLD boarder at Hebel. We needed to stop to sort out a glitch with the car and glad we did. This boarder town has a quintessential Queensland pub that has been taken to the next level of kitch by having the artist we had visited in Lightening Ridge (John Murray) kitch it up even more. It was nearly midday and never having had a XXXX gold (classic Queensland beer), it seemed like the perfect place.

Hebel is a tiny place that services the stations in the region with a community Hall, Pub of course, Bank (not anymore) school/library. Being on the boarder it was also the place where they counted the number of people and sheep that crossed in and out of Queensland and part of the telegraph line that run through outback oz. The town had a great history circle you could walk around. It was a suprising but very pleasant stop.

Next we stopped at Dirranbandi for a quick stop until we discovered the most amazing Russian bakery. We had lunch in the van but who could resist such unique delights in the middle of nowhere. The lady made these special spiced biscuits mouldings in many different wooden moulds. She said they keep for a very long time and traditionally were sent to war with a soldier.

Well nourished, unlike the Russian soldiers, we made for Thallon.

Cats of Australia # 3 – By Georgia Hall

I met a new cat at Trilby station in NSW. It’s name was Bruce🐾 he was very friendly and let me pat him.

Then I also met four farm cats at Warrego Farm stay in Queensland. We stayed the night there and in the morning we got to see the calves, chooks and horses get feed. The cats lived in the barn. There were two kittens and two cats.

The cat that had dark strips loved me a lot, but did not like getting picked up. A ginger and white cat came straight over to me when we were in the yard with the calves. One of the kittens was multi coloured and the other kitten was black with stripes. Mum says this is called Tabby.🐈

cats of Australia,  out.

Camp # 17 – Thallon, QLD

Intrigued to see more silo art we stayed overnight in Thallon. The free camp was at the show grounds and viewing point for the silo art. So we parked up with a prime view. A very small town with just a school and pub but seemed well cared for and the art was beautiful.

We had arrived an hour before sunset allowing the girls the chance for a play, setting up a bush camp for their toys. Lulu decided to have a very late sleep, Ken flew the drone and I sat and blogged with wine, a view and piece and quiet. A rare and cherished moment.

We didn’t bother unhitching the van to help with a quick get away in the morning, so rode the bikes to the pub for a meal. Friendly folks, but as we are discovering with these small, one man band pubs, the food takes a while to come.

After a freezing ride home we were tucked up snug in Goldilocks and sleep well as we have been most nights.

Camp # 17 – Lightening Ridge, NSW

For those of you who think we are well researched let me shatter that allusion. We are plotting our path the same way I choose a horse, dog, roach, crab or anything in a race. By it’s name of course. And this is how we found ourselves at Lightening Ridge. It sounded interesting and a little exciting and on further investigation, what a winner!

I have a sense I recognise the name from some famous Australian folk law, yarn or poem but still even after spending 3 days there I am no closer to discovering why it is familiar to me. If anyone know a verse where it features, please put me out of my misery and leave me a comment.

What I now know about Lightening Ridge is, it’s an opal town and has hot baths from the Great Artesian Basin. This body of underground water is the largest in the world and covers a vast area of NSW and more so Queensland.

We arrived after dark again, so the excitement of discovering a new place was to wait till the morning. However two things where clear. There was lush green grass (which we have not seen for a little while) and the bathroom amenities were big, well designed and immaculately clean. Really, wow, best we have seen so far. Totally recommend Opal Caravan Park, Lightening Ridge.

Next morning I got a sleep in (as much as one can when living in a caravan). It was mother’s day, and the girls had been planning for the week leading up to it. I had a wonderful day starting with breakfast in bed. Thoughtfully, Charlotte had written Ken a list of everything they needed and asked him to set it out the night before. In the morning they loaded it in the washing basket and headed off to the camp kitchen to leave me to sleep.

We then enjoyed the hot baths down the road, which were very hot, 41.5 degrees celcius. It was lovely and you could just feel the layers of tension release from your body until you were so floppy you could hardly keep your eyes open, let alone crack a smile for a photo. After this nearly sent us all to sleep we just had a very chilled out arvo. Mother’s Day pampering continued with massage, foot washing, nail painting and hair and make up done by the girls.

The day concluded with a comedy and poetry show put on in the caravan park by a couple of resident funny ladies, Sue and Mel. They were very good and got Charlotte up to do a Henry Lawson poem with them. She stole the show of course and then they decided to see if the confidence and talent continues in the family and got Georgia and Lulu up, which also meant I had to get up. Was great to see the girls get involved and Charlotte have a chance to get on a stage and perform, she just loved it!

The following day we went full tourist and did one of the opal mine tours and visited the gallery of famous Aussie artist John Murray. Artist seem to thrive in these rural towns and settings, it’s been wonderful to see. An why wouldn’t you be inspired by the freedom and environment of outback Australia.

The mine tour was wonderful. Learning about what makes Lightening Ridge special and the ins and outs of opal mining. Our guide has been and still is a miner, his father was an opal miner and he was a wonderful storyteller. The Ridge is the only place that produces the black opal (or blue/green opal). It’s only recently been considered valuable so there are plenty of stories of folk in the past having discarded them and the kids using them as marbles.

Opal mining to this day has not been a profitable enough business for the big corporation to get involved with so most of the mining is done by individuals or partnerships of men. Usually at a depth of about 18 meters you start to find opal and there is no way of knowing or judging where it may have formed, so it’s really just complete luck. It’s a largely unregulated industry, to this day anyone can pay the $600, do a one day OHS course and aquire the 50 x 50m plot and begin mining.

Still in opal mining there is a really sense of the individual miner, staking his claim and making his fortune, like in the gold rush days. But as our guide put it, “2% of us get rich, 10% of us make a comfortable living and the rest of us are living in hope”.

In the soft lime stone above the opal mine we toured in, an artist has been doing carvings and sculpting through out a network of tunnels. It’s been a life’s work in between mining and with the artist in his 70’s it’s a large body of work. It added a further enjoyable dimension to our morning in the mine.

Thumbs ups for Lightening Ridge.

Camp # 16 – Trilby Station, N.S.W.

What a fun drive! We were not sure if the road was going to be sealed or not, and it was not. But what fun. The surface changed constantly from compacted river bed, to clay, to drifting river sand, to rock. It really is just a road for the people who live and work on the stations out here to get on and off and through their property’s. Many of the cattle grids (and there were many, I’m thankful they were not all gates) had signs saying visitor must report to the homestead. We didn’t do this as we were just passing through.

The other aspect that made the drive fun, we only met a hand full of vechiles all day. Being new to this driving with the van I had found the drive into Broken Hill tense. The road was narrow, there was no hard shoulder to forgive any misjudgment and it was very busy with road trains.  So today, other than slowing for the cattle grids this was a relaxed and fun drive.


The scenery was unlike another we had come across. Flood plain for as far as the eye can see. Sometime trees but other totally baron. The colour also changed from a dark grey fine powdery dust, to the red sand to a limestone cream. The wind was up a little and it provided endless entertainment as it blew and moved lines or swirls of sand and dust about. The road would be clear and then out of nowhere there would be a line of sand snaking its way across in front of you. Someone would shout ‘dust crossing’, and then it was gone as fast as it appeared. Like flames dancing in a fire it was mesmerising to watch.

Wildlife aplenty too. Roo’s and emu’s, goats and sheep and the occasional eagle and cow or bull. This is where the “dust crossing” cry came from. We were traveling through a patch of abundant wildlife. Frequent calls of “roo crossing”, “goat crossing”, “emu crossing”. Then it was quiet and a line of dust snaked its way across the road, “ooohh” i said. Ken took his foot of the accelerator …… “dust crossing” and we all broke into giggles and laughter. Maybe we were all a little board but it amused us.

A quick stop for lunch at an old fashion and delicious tea house and we saw that we could continue to follow the Darling through to Bourke. The road was only marked very faintly but there were camps all the way along so we figured it must be well travelled. It was certainly in better condition than the road in the morning but similar scenery. We had pick a well rated station to stay at and pressed on to get there but again it was just before dark.

We had the place to ourselves and arrived just before Liz the station owner was about to head off for a meeting with the shearing team. Shearing was starting the next day and it was a busy time on the station. She gave us a wonderful book about the the station, there families story and the workings of a sheep station. It was a fascinating read.

We camped right on the banks (the very steep banks) of the darling river just near the homestead, airstrip and hanger. Unfortunately we slept in and missed the little Cessna taking off to go and assist the muster of the sheep for shearing. We took a short walk around in the morning and then made our way to Bourke and on to Lightening Ridge for our next stop.

Camp # 15 – Copi Hallow, Minindee, SA

A long day driving bought us through Broken Hill. We only had time to stop for lunch, fuel, gas and restock the cupboards. But I hope we are able to come back. It seems like such a historic town with many a tale to tell. Old buildings, another massive mine in the the middle of town, museums and art galleries galour. Turns out Pro Hart (famous Aussie artist) was from here.

Again preferring to stay out of the bigger towns and off the major hwy’s we went on another 100km south down to the Darling river and stayed at the Copi Hallow caravan park, which is also home to the Broken Hill speed boat club.

Copi Hollow view from our spot

As we arrived the most amazing red sunset dipped below the horizon. We were too late to enjoy it and only catching a glimpse, along with the a lovely location and very nice camp hosts we decided to stay two nights in the hope of capturing some more of this magnificence.

Unfortunately this wasn’t to be as the weather turned windy, cold and a little wet. It did however turn out to be very interesting, as we discovered the local history of famous Australian explorers I remember my dad telling me about, and got a sense and sight of the water issues facing those who try to eek out a living down stream on the Darling river.

Tragic, is the most fitting word applied to both of these tales or woe. Burke and Wills stayed here at the Minindee Pub and I guess it was here that things started to fall apart as descent arose and the exploration party fractured under Burkes leadership. Still he must have been made of some remarkable stuff to achieve and endure all he did. And the present day tradgy is the large investment and toil put into establishing the vineyards we drove past only to have to abandon them and have the bush (and weeds) fight back and reclaim them. Broken dreams and likely some broken people attached.

The river (very low) and river gums are very beautiful and we throughly enjoy a drive through the national park, along the banks of the Darling. Even coming across the site where a paddle steamer, (transport of choice in the day) had exploded and there lay on the very high banks an old solid iron boiler. It wasn’t the only causality though as when the rest of the crew returned from the pub they discovered the body of there mate up in a tree.

It was also fascinating to see the flood markers from recent flood event 1983, 1976 and 2011. With the river so low now it’s hard to imagine how it could reach such levels but then we are a country of drought and flooding rains. We enquired about the recent flooding in Queensland and apparently it takes about 4 months for the water to arrive so plenty of time to prepare.

The Darling and the flood plains have capture our imagination and we have decided to follow her to Bourke rather than take the hwy. More adventure and dust no doubt!


Camp # 14 – Waukaringa, SA

Leaving Spear Creek we drove throw the Flinders Rangers coming out the other side to a place called Wilmington or Beautiful Valley. We stopped for a fabulous coffee from the Black Sheep Cafe. Although they were closed due to refurbishing the kitchen they kindly made us some great coffee and shared their interesting story. Sounds like we missed a wee treasure of a bush cafe with a pie to rival any other.

With water on board the van we were looking for a free camp for the night and thought we’d try the abandoned mine and ruins of Waukaringa. We prefer to be off the highway away from the noise of road trains. And I thought this might be a chance for some fascinating history.

Turned out to be quiet an adventure. Firstly because it miss calculated the distance off the highway and secondly the condition of the road to get to the camp. From Yunta we turned north off the Barrier Hwy for 30km. The warning sign at the beginning of the drive only added to the sense of adventure.

The ruins were pretty trashy with broken glass and rusty metal strewn everywhere but there were a few information plaques telling the story of yesteryear. The highlights of this stay was the country side, the stars and the road trains that travel this road at night.

We perched ourselves up upon a hill away from the eerie ruins. It felt like and we really were in the middle of nowhere. We jagged the weather with clear sky’s and nil winds to speak of and set in for another spectacular sunset with the roo’s.

The lights, dust clouds and noise of the road trains was a sight to see and you had to wonder where they were travelling to as it appreared to be a road to nowhere. How vast this land is!