Driving through Townsville today we had a few things to pick up. An early birthday present for Gigi, a new bike helmet, and a few other stops for supplies. By the time we’d gather all our bit and bobs it was lunchtime before getting back on the road.
The drive was very pleasant and we enjoy passing through the sugar cane country. Being harvest time there are cane trains weaving their way from field to field, farm to farm and on to the sugar mill. Only one sugar mill still operates tours for the public and Ken and the girls are going to take the tour in Tully just 20 mins south of Mission Beach.
We had trouble finding a vacancy in any of the parks in Mission Beach leaving me wishing we had booked ahead but thankfully we found a park to “squeeze”us in, and they meant it. Great little park Tropical Hibiscus Tourist Park but it’s tight. Being late in the day were the last to arrive and had an audience. But as Kenny does, he rose to the occasion and nailed the reverse parking of the van in one hit. It was pretty to watch and rightly so was rewarded with an applause from the neighbour’s, who along with me, were all shaking our heads about how he was going to get into the spot.
The next day Friday, we schooled, toured the sugar mill and enjoyed an epic beach walk. Crab chasing, palm tree climbing, musical coconut bongos, parent/child horse back races and views, views, views. Was one of those moments that affirms why we are doing this. Beach + Halls = Happy Place.
Saturday, no school and we all love that, was a beach day. Turns out we happened to land in Mission Beach the same weekend as the local regional nippers carnival and my cousins Meg, Andrew and young Jack were participating. While Andrew was on duty we had a lovely few hours on the beach cooling off in the Coral Sea. I do love catching up with family, we have always been spread across the country and now the world so it always special.
Our brief but beautiful visit was rounded out by a social night in the park. This caravan park is quiet small and has a couple of wood fire pizza ovens. They cook them if you bring your own pizza. It’s always nice chatting with other folks but I just don’t find we, or I, have the time for it much. The grey nomads are always sharing a sun downer together but with a brood of 3 there is always something needing to be done. Ken and I often find ourselves looking at them sitting by their neat and tidy vans, reading a book in peace, with a tinge of envy, but then we are loving sharing this experience with the girls and the time for that will come.
Mission beach was brief but lovely and no midges or sandflies to report. Maybe a place to return at some point.
While in Arlie Ken had received his Drifta Field Oven and pizza stone to go with the fire pit and was keen to try it out. So he found a free camp, stocked up on fire wood and went on a mission for us to have our homemade bush wood fired pizza’s for dinner.
The camp was only 120 clicks up the road so the drive was pretty leisurely. Stopping off at the big mango for the obligatory photo and to learn the history of the delicious mangos arrival to our shores. Here we also had a chat with a young couple we had seen riding up the Bruce Hwy. I think we had also seen them on another stretch of road some weeks back. From Chillea and riding from Brisbane to Cairns. Better them than me but alway admire their adventurous spirit.
The first free camp was a bit exposed (and I got the creeps from the bearded fisherman already on site), so we went a little further up the road and pull into a popular and busy camp ground. It was set back from the beach but protected from the wind. I have to confess I was not really into it tonight. There is always something to be doing washing, cleaning, cooking, blogging, schooling, researching where we are sleeping tomorrow or the next night and playing and looking after Llewella etc etc etc. But I think I was also just so tormented by the itching and scatching, I was too scared to go outside for fear of acquiring any more bites.
Anyway I prepped inside and Ken cooked outside. It was a pretty successful first run but its going to take a bit to learn how to get the coals just right and enough coals on top of the oven to brown the top but not burn the bottom. Yum Yum though.
Just stopping that one night here and on to Mission Beach tomorrow.
A travel day and tour day all in one today. We were keen to visit Bredl’s Wildlife Farm and with the only vacancies on the day we were traveling to Airlie Beach how fortunate it was pretty much on the way.
The Bredl Family has been working with animals and playing with crocs for 3 generation and their knowledge and perspective of the animals is largely based on their own experience and observation. Some of what they presented to us seemed in contrast with what you might hear from other conservationist and wildlife management folk. At first I wasn’t sure how this sat with me but in the end we had a wonderful day and leant loads. It was clear the brothers and family genuinly cared for the welfare and conservation of all animals and their perspective was interesting and thought provoking.
The whole day (four hours) was up close interactions with all the animals, cassowaries, kangaroos, koala’s, lizards, snakes, turtles and croc’s. It really was fantastic and we all came away feeling a lot more knowledgeable about crocs in particular and that has helped relieve the worries of traveling through croc country.
As we approach Arlie Beach it was with an air of excitement. The gateway to the Whitsunday Island, a destination that boast of such beauty and seems such an exoctic location to visit, I guess I just never imagined I would actually be here. That, and we were expecting a few parcel deliveries here.
The first thing that strikes you as you drive in is the colour of the water. Is it aqua? Is it turquoise? Hard to say but it’s definately memorable and beautiful and you cant help but release a long slow breath and just wind down a gear or two.
After exploring the Airlie foreshore and lagoon we paid a visit to the information Centre and booked ourselves a couple of really special tours. A day sailing, snorkeling and lazing aboard the Derwent Hunter and another taking to the air in a seaplane to explore the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach and Whitsunday Islands. Both were spectacular the, but the flight just an amazing experience. One of the coolest things Ken and I have done, ever!
Our day on the Derwent Hunter sailing ship was excellent and educational. The staff were so knowledgeable sharing with us the history of the ship which was built in 1946 by Walter Wilson. He came out of retirement to build her and she was to be his legacy. Built in Tassie of the finest material she has weathered some serious storms and the fact she is still sailing the sea’s today is testimony to the craftmanship. Along with this fascinating story we were delivered a fabulous talk about the reef, the islands and the sea life that live here. All beautifully connecting to our investigation into bio diversity.
The snorkeling was enjoyable but the water was a little cold. Even with wet suits it just needed to be a touch warmer and we could have stayed out there all day, but we have to remind ourselves this is winter. We were fortunate though to see both a massive manta ray and whales. It’s just coming into the season, so that was an added bonus.
The day of the flight was an early start arriving at the airport in the dark to check in and getting fitted out with wetsuits. After a briefings form the pilot we took off not long after sunrise and flew to the outer reef, where the pilot landed in a lagoon and pulled up to a waiting boat. He then took us a little closer to the edge of the reef before we had an hour to do some snorkeling. Unfortunately the wind had got up and still being so early it was pretty cold. But who cares the whole things was totally amazing.
After refreshments we returned to the plane and took off heading back to the islands before landing again at Whitehaven Beach (apparently the best beach in the world). Powdery white sand and crystal clear waters. Apparently we have a lot of parrot fish to thank for this amazing beach. The parrot fish clean the corals on the reef by eating the algae attached to them, but it seems they like to have a wee munch on the coral while they are at it. They then poop it out in the form of the fine white powder that makes up amazing beach that is so fine you can clean your jewellery with it and not scratch it. Spectacular and being a sheltered from the wind we enjoyed a magical swim here.
Our final day here in Arlie beach we drove up the coast a bit to explore other beaches and found ourselves at Hideaway Bay. Unbeknownst to us there is a bar and resort out here so seemed only right to stop and have lunch while taking in the beauty of that touquise water again and build a couple of sand castles.
During our stay here the family we had met and befriend in Haliday Bay arrived and we enjoyed a couple of night socializing. The girls concocted a plan to cook dinner for both families and they did a splendid job. Working in the camp kitchen and impressing all with their Mexican themed night. Mint and watermelon coolie to drink, guacamole with corn chips, nachos, and mini pav’s with cream and fresh fruit! Totally awesome effort, bringing the two families together. Super proud of Charlotte and Willow. I didn’t even mind having to re wash all the dishes till 11pm. 😉🤪.
Arlie beach done and loved it! The only thing to put a dampener on things was being eaten alive by sandflies and or midges, who knows, but feels like I am going completely coo coo by the insecent itching and scratching! On the upside for Ken, while the mossies love him, the midges or sandflies have not pallet for his exotic blood, instead wishing to only feast on me. Great news for the rest of the family! #takingthisonefortheteam, #youcan’twinthemall.
I think you might have noticed that I haven’t blogged like for ever and that’s because of life and becaus i never know what to write about . Mum suggest that I choose a less broad topic so I went with wiled life .
I’ll go back at Australia zoo where it all started,if you haven’t been you need to go if you have been you need to go again. I loved it all but my favourite part had to be the croc and bird show or the part when I got to hugged dingos I am not sure but it was by far the best zoo i have ever been to .
as we left mum let us get one of the bindi books witch we really enjoyed. So that’s prity much how I realised how important our wiled life is so i am doing what i can to help.
We had heard Cape Hillsborough was a beautiful place to visit and we enjoyed a lovely stay. With few free camps and the caravan park full we found a small beach front camp ground attached to a resort / golf course at Haliday bay. Before we had even parked up Charlotte had found a friend so it looked like it was going to be a good stay for her.
A beautiful location, sweeping little bay, enclosed by forest covered hills, leaning palm trees and the blue inviting waters of the coral sea. We are not yet completely comfortable in our knowledge of crocodiles and where and when may be safe to go in the water so while this place looks like paradise there is an uncomfortable edge for us.
The camp host another Leonie and Pete were very welcoming. It was warm and most people were enjoying a swim in the ocean surrounded by a stinger net so we followed suit and while the water was cold it was also refreshing. Durning the length of our stay, (4 days), the weather would remain sunny but with a constant wind to cool to swim.
It was a very relaxing place and Charlotte’s friend turned out to also be from Perth and traveling around Australia so the girls really hit it off and both relished the opportunity of the social engagement. Before our first day was out they had already planned a charity bake sale and announce it to each caravan at Haliday Bay. Who could stand in the way of such enthusiasm and a good cause.
Following our visit to Australia Zoo Charlotte has been investigating the role of a wildlife warrior and way she can raise funds as she travels. Without wasting anytime here we go, and what a success the bake sale was.
The girls were up early and kicked things of well with the first batch of apple and cinnamon muffins in the oven in no time. Next the blueberry muffins were ready an in the other vans oven, and not long follow by the strawberry and apricot jam drops. What a spread!
By 10 a.m. the girls were set up and selling. With a hungry and sympathic bunch of grey nomads looking forward to something sweet to go with a cuppa tea they sold like hot cakes …….. boom boom. Raising $100 they did really well and mum spent the rest of the morning doing the dishes. Ah well, small price to pay for a good deed and a maths lesson done.
The following morning we were up for sunrise at Cape Hillsborough. Regularly there wallabies and roo’s come down to the beach and make for a secptaular photo opp. While we did see some roo’s we missed getting a shot on of the one roo that hopped to the lapping edge of the water and stood for a micro second before hopping back to the dunes. Was lovely to witness as is the stillness and promise that accompanies a sunrise.
Next was breakfast before a delightful walk through the mangroves and sudden transition to open bushland in Cape Hillsborough National Park. The circuit was signposted along the way educating about bio-diversity; plants, animals, connection. Love it! What a great topic for schooling, we have really been lacking on the science front, but this can be an on going investigation as we travel through the land and various ecosystems we discover. Thank you Cape Hillsborough NP.
With such a lovely setting both Ken and I enjoyed a morning hill climb and yoga on the beach. Not together but we both had came away with the desire to establish a healthy and nourishing morning ritual and this seemed to start to come together here but like everything we will need to be disaplined to keep it going.
Ken found this beaut little spot. We are wanted to do a bit more free camping and in particular try and always find a good free camp on ‘Free Camp Friday’. The drive in had a few interesting points for Goldilocks. It is not recommend for van our size but Ken did an amazing job getting through some narrow passages and we now having 2 ARB tyre deflators and let the 8 tyres down twice as fast. Just need to teach the kids this one and Ken and I can just stay in the cool car. 😉
Arriving close to sunset and with cattle roaming round it was beautiful. It’s a popular spot so we didn’t have it to ourself but it was spacious enough.
No denying we are in croc country now. Signs everywhere with warnings and then a memorial to the fella who was taken while launching his boats here, yep it really happens and happened right here for Neville John Olh. So why are there folk still fishing off the waters edge? I supsose it’s a matter of perspective, we are still more likely to be a road fatality than taken by a croc, but we don’t think twice about jumping in the car. However when it comes to crocs the 3 rules we are working with are, don’t go in the water, near the water or over the water.
Crocs aside the vista was spectacular. Sweeping views across the bay, mangroves, mountains in mist, roaming cattle and vast tidal changes to the landscape making it a most remarkable camp site.
We all enjoyed the change of pace that free camping offers and decided to stay two nights. With no where to go or be it’s a chance to relax and catch up with MORE bits and bobs about the van, spend time with the girls, find firewood, sit around campfires, and the girls love to get their toys out enjoy some creative play.
Free camping is definitely our favorite way to over night and we hope to do more as we make our way to Cape York.
After Fraser we overnighted at Tin Can Bay again, before pushing north. Needing to get a move on and get some kilometers clocked today we past a few places we would like to have stopped at. But we have realized you just cant see everything. Being in school holidays now we have booked ahead and the kids are going to love this one. A Discovery Park with bouncing pillow, water slides, bmx track and more.
With so much at the park to entertain the kids it was a great opportunity for Ken and I to catch up on a few things and after 5 days on Fraser Island washing was top of the list. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t kind, being humid and overcast, getting anything dry was challenging. It felt like I was chasing up and waiting for washing machines and dryers to be finished of free for two entire days. And having put over $20 worth of one dollar coins into the machines. I am certainly glad we have our own matchine in the vans and can avoid using the machines in the caravan parks most of the time. Just the shear volume this time and the weather got the better of our little 2kg washer.
Yeppon is just north of Rockhampton on the Capricorn coast. I was expecting a sleepy little place but not the case. Anything that has a McDonalds, Target, BigW is considered civilization. The Keppel Islands are just off the coast, Great Keppel being the largest and most well known.
We have lost a little momentum on planning and sight seeing but have engrossed ourselves in an audiobook detailing the life and history of Captain James Cook. It’s has gripped both Ken and my interest and has meant we haven’t been blogging or planning much. This contributed to our failing to catch the ferry in time to make it to Great Keppel for the day. We must have looked quiet rediculous turning up an hour late for the only ferry of the day. So disorganized but on the upside, it did provide Llewella with the opportunity to learn a new phase, which she delighted in repeating over and over.
“Oh no, missed boat!”
”Yes love we missed to the boat.”
Epic fail Mum and Dad, and bless her, she reminded us all day and the next day and every time she sees a boat now.
So while in Yeppon we enjoyed a couple of meals in town, a little bit of shopping, a beautiful drive and drone flight at Sandy Point, a bike ride, explored the foreshore with its amazing new lagoo / water park and the water slides in the caravan park were a hit.
Next we are looking to do some free camping. Having been parked under a pretty large tree here it meant we needed to give the solar panels a good clean. With the cloudy days we have been having and free camping ahead of us we are going to need all the solar power we can get.
Fraser is a bit of a ‘Mecca’ for 4WD enthusiasts and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. With us having to get up to Cape York and back before we head to the UK we did wonder if we had the time, but with being so close and unsure when we’d be in this area again it wasn’t too hard to commit.
Colin the service manger at Zone RV suggested we take the Van, but this early into the trip and not yet quite knowing how well I can tow tonne 3.5T through soft sand we had settled for leaving the van in Tin Can Bay, taking AUdrey the cruiser and staying at Kingfisher Bay resort on the west of the island.
We caught the ferry at River Heads, just outside of Harvey Bay. The weather was gorgeous and we could see a couple of dolphins playing just where the barge was moored before coming into pick us up.
Thirty minutes later we we’re rolling off up the wooden pier to the resort. I did wonderif I needed to deflate the tyres before getting on the island but the resort was mostly tarmaced – the sand would come later!
The bay looked fantastic with a few sailing boats moored up – reminded me very much of Monkey Mia in WA. After getting ourselves orientated we headed back down the beach to watch the sunset before dinner. What a sunset it was – the best so far of the trip.
After a buffet breakfast (the girls do love a buffet) we aimed to go visit the east of the Island and the wreck of the SS Maheno.
It was nearly right way we left the comfort of the bitumen and really got to understand what is meant by Fraser being the largest sand island in the world. Dropped the tire pressures to 25psi all round and drove over the Dingo Proof electrified cattle grid that helped protect the resort.
The tracks are narrow, with regular passing points but go straight through and up and down the island cutting through the differing forests. The tracks are not particularly tricky, but you do have to concentrate having to slow right down regularly so I don’t have our passengers and fridge bouncing off the roof or slicing open a tire with a jagged tree root.
The colours of forrest and sounds of the birds are soul warming. My new favourite – the Eastern Whip Bird – or as I like to call it the ‘Whip-Saw Bird’ sounds powerful, piercing through the trees.
It takes quite a while (at least an hour) to cross the width of the island to get to the Eastern beaches, but you are well rewarded leaving the closed in forest track and opening up to the wide expanse of Eastern beaches and the constant rolling waves of the sea.
We learned that the Western end of the Island is receding by 1cm per year while the Eastern end is growing at 2cm. So the Island is constantly getting bigger.
Driving up the beach at 80km/h is fun. You feel the sand through the steering wheel, there is a bit of looseness and a lag when turning. The word that comes to mind when trying to describe it is ‘flowing’, it kind’a reminds me of skiing!
There were a few occasions when we had to brake hard at washouts (caused by creeks running into the sea) that suddenly appeared in view, sliding 3.5 tonnes of car up the beach. A couple of times we needed to reverse a bit after these quick stops, to go either closer to the sea or island to find a less steep point to cross.
Leonie deciding to drive up one such ‘washout’ which turned out to be a reasonable creek!
When we’ve been driving north up the beach for at least 30 minutes you start to understand the scale of Fraser. It’s length is about 120km (same length as Hardrian’s Wall), and you can basically drive the whole Eastern side.
Eventually a large shape comes into view on the beach way in the distance through the sea spray, It’s awesome driving closer up the beach and seeing the shape come into focus and eventually drive right up beside Fraser’s famous landmark – the wreck of the Mahino.
Turns out the SS Mahino was built in Dumbarton, Scotland which is less than 5 miles away from where I was born!
And just to give us the prefect Fraser shot – a Dingo rocks up.
This is what the Mahino looked like in it’s heyday as an ocean liner transporting passengers between New Zealand and Australia around 1905.
All the kids wanted to do the next day was chill by the restort pool. So we went for a (long!) wander down the beach toward the old jetty. It turned out to be very long walk, but the girls had a ball especially seeing the thousands of soldier crabs marching down the beach.
Fraser’s other most famous attraction Lake Makenzie was on the agenda the next day, but the weather was looking a bit iffy!
Sure enough, we we’re on the beach for about 20 mins and it started to bucket it down. Sowe went to one of the fenced (dingo proof) picnic areas to have our luxury packed lunch the resort had made for us and I decided to go for a short walk along atiny bit of Frasers great walk which goes through the length of the island.
On the walk I came across this waterhole/billabong through the trees and knew it would make some great footage/photo, which I ended up entering in a Fraser calendar competition. Of course, another downpour occurred with me 2km from the lake. Forest was beautiful in the rain though.
We checked out the fine dining restaurant that night and couldn’t go past their Fraser interpretation of Chilli Sand Crab – correct choice! The girls, with Charlotte in particular love going to proper restaurants and mostly behave brilliantly, meaning Leonie and I can have a great time as well.
Another big forest and eastern beach driving day with some great winter weather took us to Champagne Pools near the northern tip of the Island and Eli Creek on the way back.
The Champagne Pools get its name from the way the ocean waves spill over as froth into the natural pools. The girls loved it, the colours we’re magical and there we’re even a few large fish in the pools. (Nice recommendation Shane V).
It’s quite amazing to find out that Eli Creek’s flows 4 million listers of fresh water into the ocean every hour! It’s a popular spot and the girls had a ball floating down it twice.
On our final day, as we planned to leave Fraser via the other ferry point on the south of the island taking us to Inskip Point, we had time to squeeze in a sea kayak to a little mangrove lined creek just north of the resort in the morning. Leonie loves canoeing, but it turned out Llewella wasn’t that keen so it ended up being quite stressful intermingled with some real beauty.
The drive to the souther tip was majestic given the weather really turned it on. We watched a pod of dolphins while waiting on the beach for the ferry to pick us up. There is facebook page called ‘I got bogged at Inskip Point’, so I made sure I was in low-range coming off the ferry and kept the gas on till clear of the point, turned out to be a non event, the rains must have made the sand nice and firm.
Easily go back to Fraser, we really only saw a fraction of it, might even take the van next time, or better still just the 4WD and a couple mates.