Camp # 87, Days 397 – 402, Coolum Beach QLD – for the last time!

Wow, wow and wow, what a house! It was pitch dark and pelting down with rain when we arrived so i’ve no idea about the location but we are just outside of Coolum at Marcus Beach and the house is stunning. Lots of cool design features, ample space, a dance mirror and ballet bar in the carport and a piano. We’ve plenty to do while here, getting the van sorted and preparing for our next adventure but this house has it all!

Beach Side, near Marcus Beach (on AirBnB)

The kids always love having their own rooms and we all relish a bathroom / toilet. By the light of day we realize how close to the beach we are but the weather is still miserable. Ken is off to visit the van, check in on progress and run a few errands while the kids and I school and take the opportunity of a break in the weather to visit the local beach. Moody and grey but still good for a run around, beach combing and sand castles.

Having been to Coolum a number of times now, we’ve no plans to go sight seeing. Shopping, sorting and stocking up is the aim of our game. For the kids it’s always play, games, TV, baking, enjoying the spoils of a house and reluctantly doing a little school. Mum your such a drag making us do school!

Girls doing a bit of schoolwork with space!

Once Goldilocks was ready, we picked her up, cleaned and repacked her and moved to the Coolum Caravan Park for a couple of days. It’s always good to test everything out and make sure it’s all working before we leave Coolum. This will be our last visit here, from now all servicing with take place in Perth.

Art or a toy?

So all set, we are ready to (sing along folks) GO WEST, life is peaceful there, GO WEST, in the open air, GO WEST, where the skies are blue, GO WEST, this is what were gonna do! With an air of excitement we hit the road.

Melbourne to Coolum Beach 1,891 kms, Days 392 – 397, Hay, Dubbo & Armidale

So to be reunited with the van and start the last leg, (heading west and homeward) we need to get ourselves up the Coolum Beach on the beautiful Sunny Coast A.S.A.P. This was not our original plan and we’ll be missing out on the Flinders Rangers due to this little detour. However it’s all part of the adventure and without this detour we would never had our great little visits to Hay and Dubbo. Which we loved.

HAY

Last year in Cooktown we camped next to an energetic character who come to be known as Uncle Pete. Uncle Pete was from Hay and took it upon himself to put together a homeschooling morning for the girls on Hay. Since then we’d been keen to try and get there and here we are.

A wheat and sheep area, known or being the flattest place on earth, home to the shearers Hall of Fame and it’s most famous resident was the Marino sheep that featured on the Australian Penny/Currency.

We arrived late on Friday afternoon and found an old converted convent to stay in for a couple of nights. It suited us perfectly and sheltered us from the storm that was blowing through. The town seemed very quiet but then the weather was pretty bad. The next day we made our way to the Shearers Hall of Fame. With a great exhibition on the history and a shearing display and lesson it was a fabulous experience.

We are particularly thrilled to have been here and able to give the girls this education and experience because shearing and the wool industry has been a significant factor in making Australia the nation it is to. Australia’s early economic stability and success was largely to do with wool. It is said the economy ‘rode on the sheep’s back for many years’. While the wool was a stable commodity the shearers who carried out the back braking work did there bit to shape the culture of workers rights and industrial relation. Fancy words now for blokes who just wanted a fair go for their hard work.

In Unity we have Strength

The demo was also fantastic and not so much the shearing of the sheep which we’ve seen before but the talk, stories and run through from the shearer was fantastic. He’d been in the business since he was a boy. Lived and breathed it all his life, it felt like you were spending time with a living legend. So insightful, educational and funny and we’ll never forget his catch phrase, ‘every sheep needs a hair cut’.

Girls up close with the newly shorn sheep.
150 bales / 17 tonnes when fully loaded!

We left Hay the next day without running into Unlce Pete but had a great time all the same. It was Mother’s Day and I was treated to a sleep in, cuddles, snuggles, gifts in bed and an epic full cooked breakfast before we left. A long driving day with a couple of stops at some silo art in Weethalle, and a late picnic lunch in Forbes. By the time we rolled into Dubbo it was Dark.

DUBBO

We had intended to stay just one night here but after checking into the Quest appartments and Charlotte picking up some brochures we diced we’d try and book another night staying at Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo. Either way we were going to visit the Zoo but it looked like a fabulous experience ton be able to stay in the Zoo, and it was.

Stopped in Forbes for Lunch – the town square is gorgeous.

After a bit of phone tag we were booked, not only for a day at the zoo, staying the night with the evening and morning tour and dinner and breakfast included but we were able to book an animal experience for Georgia with a TIGER!!!!!! We have been looking to do this all over Australia but everywhere had an age limit of 12 years. But here at Dubbo, 7 will do. Georgia may blog more about this one so i’ll not say too much.

Georgia feeding the big cat!

The Zoo just gets better and better as you can hire bikes and ride from start to finish. The perfect way to get around as the girls have already been missing their bikes so everyone was happy. The exhibits were clear and excellent looked fantasied for the animals but they were well designed so that the fencing was hidden of sunken so often it appeared there was no fencing between you and the animals. Really fabulous. Probably now our favourite Zoo in Australia.

You check into your accommodation between 2-3pm and then are taken for a private tour around the zoo from 4pm after closing. This was fabulous as well seeing Hippos, Black Rhino, Lions and ???? Getting that guided experience with all the extra knowledge and story telling that comes along with it is alway a much enjoyed experience or all of us.

We returned to the accommodation and can view the savannah animals that just graze and hang out right in front of your hut (if you have one of the front huts, due to our late booking we missed this), but still it was really awesome to just wonder down to the viewing platform and watch the animals.

Dinner was an African inspired meal. Nice enough. The setting and building is very nice the menu sound delicious but it didn’t really wow us. It may have been the tweaking of things to cater for the coeliac and kids but still we thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I absolutely relish any night of cooking and dishes.

The next morning is a very cold and early start to do another tour, White Rhino, Lemurs, Cheetahs and Elephants. Absolutely fabulous especially the elephants getting to go into their shed and observe their morning warm baths, breakfast and training rituals. Getting the opportunity to speak with the trainers was also wonderful and engaging for the kids. On our return breakfast was served and we departed our room and Dubbo.

What an amazing experience. We left feeling very blessed and fortunate to have been here and able to share this together as a family. We’d had no intention of coming Dubbo but soooooooo glad we did. Much loved by all members of the family.

ARMIDALE

A full day traveling with a lunch stop in Gunnadah and a play at the playground in Tammworth. In our opinion the play ground at Tammworth is one of the best in Australia so we simply couldn’t drive by. We have been to both place before and travelled these very roads before still pretty country side.

Tamworth – The best playground in Australia?

The notable difference is with the federal election just around the corner the candidate poster out in force. It seems we’ve been looking at Barnaby Joyces face for two full driving days. I never new what a large area his electorate was, New England goes on and on and on!

We scored the boardroom suite in the Armidale Motel!

As we approach Armidale you start to notice all the autumnal leaves. Very beautiful but after a long day, having start at the sparrows fart in Dubbo with a Zoo tour, we are looking forward to getting some dinner, a nice shower and bed!

After a good breakfast we hit the road early Armidale is in fog and mist. It’s going to be a long drive today but if we push on we’ll make it to Coolum. Kens booked a nice Airbnb for us for the week and we are all looking forward to being back in familiar territory, our home away from home. We are also feeling energized about this next leg of the journey and a week here in Coolum with help us get all prepared and organized.

It turned out to be yet another long day in the car arriving at Coolum Beach in the dark. We pick up a Thai takeaway for dinner on our way through to the house and nearly get drowned by the torrential rain – but we are here.

Melbourne, for the last time, Days 381 – 392, VIC.

We decided to take the scenic route back to Melbourne and visit a few local silo art projects.

Bit of harsh country reality on the side of the road.

Returning to Melbourne, and returning to the house we stayed in last time. We’d been so comfortable here and this time we’d be joined by mum and dad Glover. The girls are beyond excited to see both Grandma and Papa again and be staying back at the house with all the wonderful toys.

Got to celebrate Charlotte’s birthday again, this time with Grandma, Papa and Irene.

Goldilocks was going to be having an adventure on her own. Going on a truck up to Coolum for repairs. The unpacking the van is always a pain. Making sure we have clothes, toiletries, school work, and then ensuring the toilet is clean, (3 weeks unattended and it’ll be stinking to high heaven) and finally perishable food in the cupboards, draws, fridge and freezer.

It seems we weren’t the only ones not enjoying the unpacking of the van. Seems we had pissed off the neighbors. It’s not easy parking a 22ft van plus car hitch on, in an inner city suburb. We’d checking in with the local council and tried to get a permit only to be told we don’t need one. They understand from time to time a large truck may need to pull up for deliveries, moving or parking your caravan to go on holidays, as long as its no longer than 48 hours.

Still some people just like to be angry and love a little drama. So out they were, taking pictures of us, huffing and puffing, starring and glaring. Didn’t bother to come and talk to us, ask what we were are doing and how long we might be? So when I approach her to apologize for any inconvenience and say we’d be gone in half an hour. I received a telling off and firmly informed we were out the front of her house. “do you know this is my house!” We’ve met plenty of amazing people on our travels but I think this maybe grumpiest. Wishing her better days.

The next day we were all a buzz expecting the arrival of Grandma and Papa. Mum had a conference in Melbourne and they were coming to stay with us after it finished. What a joyful reunion and the grandies had plenty of fun and games lined up. It was going to be a hectic week for Grandma and Papa.

We had very little planned. A few outings but wanted to allow lots of time to just hang around the house and play too, as that is the favorite thing to do. Our first few days we familiarize ourselves with the local area (Middle Park and St Kilda), playgrounds, trams, cafe’s and tried to lay out a bit of a plan for the week. It was also a great opportunity to see some family all together.

Saturday rolled round and we had tickets to a children’s ballet performance of Coppealia at the Art Centre. Dad had plans to catch up with Brad (my cousin) and Geoff (my uncle) so we had a spare ticket which worked out beautifully as it gave us a wonderful day with Aunty Corry who was free to join us for the performance, lunch and a wonder through the national gallery.

Coppealia at Melbourne’s Arts Centre

Turns out it was the 4th of May and Federation Square was full of Star Wars clad people and even a space craft from the films. It was only half way through lunch that I realized what it was all about. ‘May the fourth be with you’. Melbourne always knows how to turn on a show. It really was a lovely day and always a treat getting some precious time with Aunty Coz.

Bit of dancing fun at the NGV.
May the fourth be with you!

Sunday was a bit more family time. Heading up to Seville for dinner and a catch up with Carol, Stef and Nick. Georgia was looking forward to visiting with Mini the kitten again and we’d left a box of things with Carol before we went to Tassie that we needed to collect. As always it was another happy family occasion.

The week was flying by and we are expecting another visitor to join us soon. But first the girls had a list of must do’s with Grandma and Papa before that. LEGO land at Chadstone, shopping in the city with Grandma, baking a belated birthday cake (Harry Potter cake of course) for Charlotte’s birthday, games, games, games!

About a year ago we had purchased some tickets to Harry Potter – The Cursed Child and had given them to Charlotte for her birthday. It turned out we were going to have a spare ticket. There was no one more deserving or a bigger HP nut that we knew off and loved, so it was an easy choice to make whom we’d give it to. Irene sorted out the logistics of getting to Melbourne and then we just let the good times roll. The girls just love her and I’ve REALLY missed girlfriends on this trip.

Harry Potter was a two part show, matinee and evening show all in the one day. Mum, Irene and Charlotte visited the Store of Requirement before the show and met Ken at the theatre later and Papa, Georgia, Lulu and I went to the Aquarium and a little shoe shopping. The Aquarium was great and it was amazing and unexpected to see Emporia Penguins, so cool – (boom boom).

Doing the Melbourne thing.

We then met the Harry Potter peeps for dinner between their performances. It was tricky getting a table at any of the recommended mid show eateries. But we found a Betty’s Burger Bar just around the corner, kid friendly, coeliac safe and empty. Perfect. Betty’s Burgers hails from Noosa and we’d enjoyed eating there. The food was just as delicious but with a cool, dark Melbourne outside it felt a little out of place with its light refreshing coastal vibe. Still it did the job.

Harry Potter was awesome!

Well feed and having heard about each other days we parted ways again. A tram ride home for Papa, Georgia, Lulu and myself and back to the theatre for the Pot Heads. It was an amazing experience by all accounts and easy to see them all still floating on cloud nine the next day.

We had share many great days together and many a great meal around the dinner table. Our last night together wasn’t any different. We’d spent the day packing and preparing for the next stage, while Reeni explored Melbourne some more. The house had been fantastic, friends and family fabulous and tonight a little time to count our blessing. Plentiful and abundant they are.

We finished our time together with our last breakfast at our favorite little cafe – Frankies. We’d also shared many a fabulous lunch here and the chance to squeeze in one more was too appealing. Farewells are always hard but with our hearts and bellies full and more adventure on the horizon we parted ways and say goodbye to Melbourne, till next time.

Camp # 86, Day 380, Glenrowan VIC

Getting back on the Kelly trail today. Heading south as we make our way back to Melbourne from Beechworth, we popped into the Greta cemetery where Ned, Ellen (his mother) and other members of the Kelly family are laid to rest. There graves are unmarked but just as you walk in there is a headstone to acknowledged they have been buried here. The visit book reveals its a popular stop even thought there is nothing much to see.

What you do get, is a sense of the harsh and vast land that the pioneers tried to tame. There is no town to look at, just a few old houses and the ground is very hard and dry. You can only imagine how tough this place must have been to try and eek out a living of the land.

Neds everywhere!

From here we drove west to Glenrowan the location of the final siege that saw the downfall of the Kelly Gang. Ned had an elaborate plan to derail the police train he knew was coming from Melbourne before having a shoot out with any remaining police in his new armour. There are also theories of a small band of sympathizer awaiting near by to engaging in a rebellious uprising.

Halls and the Big Ned!

Neds well laid plans didn’t play out as he had intended. While they succeeded in the braking of the railway line, the police train was waved down and stopped by a local school teacher. With the police at full force and knowing exactly where to find the Kelly gang they had little chance of victory or escape.

The armour was effective at deflecting bullets and stunned the police, it was extremely heavy, encumbering and visibility out the helmet limited. Three hostages lost there lives and the stand off lasted all night. It wasn’t until day break that Ned finally fell. Somehow he managed to get behind the police line and in the mist and haze of dawn he fired off a few more shots before being felled. His wounds were treated at the railway station and he was transported to Beechworth prison.

The law of the time stipulated that Ned should have been tried for his crimes in Beechworth but knowing they would not get a favorable verdict the authorities transferred him to Melbourne where he was tried and hung at age 25 in 1880. Australias first and only outlaw.

It is indeed and epic tale and one in which still has folk in these parts divided. For police and families of police he is a criminal and cold blooded murder and nothing more but for other he is a rebel, ragbag and legend.

While in Glenrowan we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Vintage Hall Cafe, before attempting to see the local attraction of a reconstruction of the siege. Unfortunately we had missed the fine print about it being ‘frightening and loud, the young and those with heart conditions be warned, non refunds will be given’. And they weren’t wrong. We finally left with the kids in tears, confused and well and truly freaked out!

No Refunds will be Given!

From there we crossed the train tracks to the siege sites and fortunately a lovely friendly horse was able to help settled the kids nerves before we followed the trail laid out with all the key information and locations of the siege. It was quiet something to be standing on the ground surrounded by the trees that would have witnessed such a well known legend in Australian history.

The site of the Glenrowan Inn under siege

Following this a final walk through town and a play at the playground we decided to spend the night in Glenrowan before returning to Melbourne and for some much anticipated time with Grandma and Papa.

Camp # 85, Days 376 – 379, Beechworth VIC

Autumn fun in Beechworth

With a very loose and fluid plan in mind we found ourselves in Beechworth. We’d expected school holidays over had expected things to be quiet but little did we realize to truth of Autumn in this neck of the wood. Compounded by the fact Easter and ANZAC Day were falling within the same week and being so close to NSW and the school holidays not having finished there it was still very busy and we could only get an unpowered site.

But it all worked out beautifully. Pulling up right next to a water tap and with our new solar configuration we had nae bother being off grid and ended up staying 4 nights. Situated amongst the autumn trees, on spacious sites and being allowed to have a camp fire made this place magic.

ANZAC day was a corker of a day with clear blue sky’s. We walked into Beechworth to explore the town and take in the history of Australia first and only outlaws, the Kelly Gang. We did a fabulous tour of the Beechworth Goal where Ned, his mother and Harry Power served time. It was fascinating due the the long operation history of the prison, (1864 – 2004, 140 yrs). The guide was super passionate and proud of the history which also makes for and engaging journey through its history.

From there we visited the War Memorial, all freshly laid with wreaths to pay our respects and reflect on the day. Lest we Forget.

Next it was a short work of the old court house and Ned Kelly Vaults. Both did a great job of taking you back to the day and telling the story, myths and legends of the Kelly family, Kelly gang and pioneers of the time.

The following day we made our way to Bright for lunch with Lois (Dad’s cousin), and to take in the delights of this quant little town. However we weren’t the only ones. Bright holds an Autumn festival and comes to life for a week, and this happened to be the week. The town hosts an amazing array of deciduous trees which have put Bright on the map at this time of year.

Meeting Lois in Bright

It was wonderful to see Lois again and just lovely to be immersed in the season of autumn which has never really been a feature growing up the Perth. A beautiful day followed by a clear and crisp evening and night by the fire, and the best Fish n Chips we have come across in Australia and EVER really.

It’s a big claim but was easy to make. Entirely gluten free, tasty grilled Barra, melt in your mouth calamari, crunchy and moorish cauliflower fritters, crisp chips and perfect potato cake. And unlike every other fish and chips i’ve ever eaten I didn’t feel that blah fat drench feeling in my mouth or tummy. The Aging Frog Fish Bar in Beechworth is a total winner winner fish dinner!

Our final day we were going to hire bikes (as we no longer have ours with us), but in the end a day around the van is what everyone really needed. There is brilliant cycling around these parts. Again our lack of research had us unprepared and we missed this opportunity but we have loved every minute of our stay here. Seeing the kids play in the autumn leaves building nests and pretending to be birds all afternoon was priceless and free!

Autumn Colours of Bright

Another one of my favorite spots! It’s a long list.

Camp # 84, Day 375 & 376, Stringybark Creek Camping Ground, VIC

We had a bit of a lazy start getting some school work done before making our way deep into Kelly country. Ned Kelly knew this country like the back of his hand and following an incident at the Kelly home with Constable Fitzpatrick, Ned, his brother Dan and the two other members of the Kelly Gang, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were hiding out in the hills near Stringybark Creek.

It his here that Ned sealed his fate to eventually hang at the gallows in Melbourne when he or member of the gang shot and killed 3 policemen. The massacre at Stringybark Creek as it is know divided option and the community as to whether, the Gang were defending their own lives or it was cold blooded murder. Either way 3 coppers were dead and families left grieving and Ned and the gang became Australias first and only outlaws, meaning they could now be shot on sight.

At the sight of the masacare there are memorials and signage telling the story and timeline of how thing evolved on that fateful day. You can then do a walk through the bush to the site where one of the police had tried to escape but was evently tracked down and shot. It’s a little gruesome and very moving as you can really sense how it may be have been for the coppers and the Kelly gang.

I feel conflicted because for sure its tragic that those policemen were shot and died but I also can understand how Ned and the gang may have felt they had no choice. It did indeed seem the police were hunting the Kelly gang and were intent on bringing them in dead or alive.

Just down the road is the Stringybark Creek campground and we’d thought to have lunch there but it was so great we decided to pull up for the day. With wood, a camp fire and loads of space to stay hitched up we were set. A real bush setting and the kids just love the space, nature and fire to play with.

The next morning it was pancakes on the fire before continuing our tour of Kelly country this time stopping at Harry Powers lookout. A stunning spot with sweeping views through the King Valley. Again plenty of signage to tell more of the story of Australias bush rangers history.

Harry Powers lookout

As we sat taking in the views I was listening to the bird calls of the bush but was struck at the variety of calls all playing in one steady stream. Unusual I thought, unless we are listen to a Lyrebird. We returned to the van for lunch and Ken went on a little explore to see if he could find the noises and the amazing Lyrebird. Success! They are quite reclusive and camouflage easily so he did really well. It was an awesome encounter, You can see the bird briefly at the end of the video.

The elusive Lyrebird – which mimics other birds calls and artificial sounds like chainsaws!

From here we wound our way out of the forest and down to the valley floor and on to Beechworth.

Camp # 83, Day 374, Tatong VIC

Well this may well be the strangest place we have camped. It had great reviews for when the Pub was opened. But as we had turned up on a night/day it was closed, and that is all that is here in Tatong, it felt a little strange.

The publican has tried to bring the place to life and into the fold of the Ned Kelly trail by painting a water tank and providing a few signs on the local history but otherwise the place was eerily quiet and deserted.

Free Camping at the Tatong Tavern

It was getting very late and had been a long drive from Daylesford with a stop in Papa’s hometown of Kyneton for lunch. We just needed somewhere to pull up for the night before starting our own tour of the Kelly Trail.

On the Ned Kelly Trail

Ned Kelly is Australias one and only outlaw and it turns out the Glover side of the family is related to Harry Power another well known bush ranger who is believed to have taken Ned under his wing and taught him the trick of the trade.

High Five for the Pub’s Cat

It was a quiet, peaceful night, with some interesting insect encounters and a cat for Georgia, so we can’t complain.

Camp # 82, Days 369 – 373, Daylesford VIC

Ken and I have visited Daylesford before but this time it was really exciting for Ken and I to catch up with some friends from Perth who have relocated here and exciting for the kids as they are expecting a visit from the Easter Bunny.

The Autumn colours of Daylesford

In our usual style we haven’t booked anywhere and with it being the Easter long weekend we’ve taken a gamble and its paid off. Daylesford Holiday Park were friendly, fantastic and squeezed us in. No sites left but a funny little patch called Bills spot had us in a top location with power and water to boot. Happy Days.

Nadia and Leonie

An added bonus we discover that the park is running Easter activities for children all weekend and their is a free egg hunt in the botanical gardens on the Saturday. Lots of fun for the kids but the edge is taken of as the girls can’t really eat any of it. We are holding out hope that the E Bunny knows and delivers something suitable.

With the park full of kids the girls were bound to make some friends and they did. In the afternoon Nadia and her daughter Alwyne popped down to the caravan park to say hi and check out our set up. The girls all had a play and Alwyne stayed on while Nadia went home to get prepared to have us over for dinner.

It was a lovely meal and just so wonderful being in Nadia’s company. She did a great job hosting us all while Lee was out of town for work and with the girls discovering a shared love for baking it was long before they had concocted a plan to make desert. In seemed like a fun idea at the time but soon there were too many cooks in the kitchen and flour, sugar, chocolate and marshmallows everywhere. Then end result was delicious, well done girls but crickey, I’m not sure that marshmallow pan will ever be the same again.

The Girls fantastic Cakes!

The next day was Good Friday and I had a go a making gluten-free HCB’s. They smelt amazing and warm out the oven were pretty nice, but to be honest they looked better than they tasted. Very dense but a nice flavour.

The outcome may have been better if i’d had the required yeast! I was certain I had some but it was nowhere to be found. Ken made a dash to the shops but all were closed except Bakers Delight. So being a clever bunny he went in an acquired some of what they use. I’d never seen yeast like this and didn’t know how to use it (in a moist block) so in the end it was more miss that a hit.

Charlotte and I had a quick catch up with Nadia and Alwyne again at The Amazing Mill Market. Daylesford is well known for its markets and this place is certainly amazing! Nadia has a couple of stalls here and we needing to do a few hours work. So the girls hang out and I pottered. Not for long though. Lulu woke from her sleep and we were homeward bound.

The Amazing ‘Parker’s Mini Circus’ – Good Clean Fun!

Saturday we joined in the fun of the Easter egg hunt in the botanical gardens. It was fun for sure and the gardens where beautiful. Daylesford is known for it’s autumn colours and with the morning light filtering through the vast array of trees it’s a lovely place to be. It was certainly a little hard to collect all those eggs and not get to eat them but I had a stash of eggs they could eat so that helped.

From there we ended up having a wonder day with Nadia, Lee and Alwyne. We were just really happy to hang out together and do whatever was on the cards. Turns out a market and lunch in neighbouring town Creswick then on for a wonder and explore around Lambley Gardens and Nursery. All very pleasant and plenty to keep the kids entertained, not that they needed much. They were getting on like a house one fire. Charlotte and Alwyne in particular. It was a real pleasure getting the chance to catch up and spend a bit more time together, very relaxed and easy. Just the way we all like it.

Easter Sunday was pretty low key. E Bunny did indeed visit and it was a chocolate feast for breakfast. We then explored some of the local markets and a great coeliac friendly Asian cafe for lunch the afternoon was very relaxed with Charlotte going for a sleepover at Nadia’s.

We had a quiet evening with Georgia which we all enjoyed. There isn’t much of a chance to get one on one time and when Lulu fell asleep the 3 of us played some cards, read books and enjoyed the peace and calm.

Charlotte was dropped off just as we were getting ready to depart, a final farewell and we were on our way north to explore Kelly country, Ned Kelly that is. But before we get there we’d be passing through Papa’s hometown of Kyneton. We had to stop and visit the old house and check out the town. It also made a good lunch stop before gettin got the road again.

Camp # 81, Days 362 – 368, Melbourne, Vic

The crossing back to the mainland had been much better. Still plenty of rolling about, but this time being in the middle of the boat we felt it less and has less noise of the hull groaning and moaning as it cut a path through the Bass Strait. Our arrival into Melbourne was early, approximately 0530. We disembarked without incident and made our way to our accommodation for the next week.

Yes, we are without Golidlocks for the week while she has her suspension serviced and solar panels re-wired and re-configured. Ken has been doing a lot of research on our solar and the desired and required output. We bought a generators in Tassie to help meet our needs. With a love of free camping and it edging closer to winter when the sun drops lower in the sky, reducing our capacity Ken felt it was necessary. Our energy demands are pretty high and our current system just doesn’t cut it.

So while Goldilocks gets some attention we are hoping to have a bit of a city break and explore Melbourne City. Turns out we didn’t really get much exploring done at all. The Airbnb house was just lovely and being the home of two young girls there were loads of toys! The girls where in heaven and not really keen to go anywhere.

So the week filled up with school work, planning and lots of lovely homely activities. Cooking, baking, craft and dress ups. The local area was perfect for scootering around and with lots of Parks in the near vicinity we enjoyed just getting out amongst the beautiful leafy suburb of Middle Park.

Our one big outing for the week was a lovely long walk along Port Philip Bay, down to the Saint Kilda foreshore and Ackland street for lunch. It was a glorious sunny autumn day and before we knew it we where at the St Kilda Pier, then Luna Park and finally the hub of St Kilda, Ackland street. Soaking up the vibes for lunch we then caught the #96 tram home to complete a quintessential Melbourne day out.

Ken was kept busy dealing with van issues. Turns out Goldilocks had some pretty significant issues with her chassis and was going to need to return to the Zone RV factory in Coolum Beach. Well that wasn’t in our plans! The negotiations, re-organizing and investigation all took up a lot of time but a new plan was born.

We reluctantly sent the bikes home and stripped as much weight off the van as we could. We’d continue with our planned fortnights tour of central Victoria before returning to Melbourne and sending the van up to Coolum Beach on a truck.

It was a mad rush making all the necessary arrangement but eventually we were ready to pick up the van and head for Easter celebrations in Daylesford. Here we caught up with my oldest school friend, (we met in year 3 at 8 years of age). Back on the road again and it feels good like we are home.

Tassie Week 4, Camp # 70 – Swansea & 71 – Seven Mile Beach, Day 325 – 331

Today we are leaving the beautiful Bay of Fires and Georgia is still in a fair amount of pain and unable to walk more than a few minutes at a time. I really wanted to have her checked out but couldn’t get a Dr’s appointment in St Helens. We’d been told of a good GP down the coast at Swansea, so will bypass our planned stay at Coles Bay and head for Swansea. 

View across to Coles Bay from Swansea

Coles Bay and the sights of the Freycient National Park, home to the famous Wine Glass Bay, (features on most brochures about Tasmanian) is all about the magnificent bush walks and stunning scenery. It was looking like we were just going to have to give this gem a miss. With Ken still having what now appears likes weeks worth of work left and a fast approaching dead line, Georgia unable to walk more than 50 meters and Lulu not going in the sling and wanting to be carried everywhere it was just all too hard.

The lunch stops (Orford) are magnificent when you caravan
The girls loved the practice road marking in the Orford park

Swansea was on the other side of Great Oyster Bay looking across to Freycinet National Park. The caravan park was a very short walk from the bay and the views were stunning. The park itself wasn’t anything special but it was obvious the owners cared a lot and invested in the maintenance and experience of there clients. Super friendly and they’d developed a scavenger hunt for the kids to keep them occupied for at least a few hours. The big hit was the communal TV room though. The girls enjoyed getting out of the van and having TV to watch. 

Lulu, having a cruise on the Scooter in Swansea

Our planned to stay in Coles Bay was also were we were to collect mail. With a day to wait for the Dr’s appointment the girls and I jumped in the car and drove the hour and a half drive to pick up mail. Wow, soooo glad we did, cause the views as you drive in to Coles Bay are breathtaking. Easy to see what all the fuss is about. Cute little town to, but the natural beauty surrounding it, absolutely awe inspiring. We picked up the mail, had an icecream and wonder around before the hour and a half return trip home.

Our visit to the GP went really well, she was a fabulous GP. No X-rays or scan required. Phew!!! It was a really thorough and great assessment and the Dr was awesome with getting Gigi involved in her assessment. I felt really reassured as we left with the advice to just have a couple of quiet weeks, to let the swelling and bruising subside and ensure Georgia doesn’t get another knock to the head so soon after a concussion. With that knowledge we left the stunning wildness of the east coast of Tassie behind and made our way to Hobart.

We opted to stay just outside of Hobart on the outskirts and base ourselves here until Ken was finished his work. This way the kids and I would have plenty to explore either in Hobart city, or nearby Richmond and even take a big day trip down to Port Arthur.

Caught out again by a public holiday and long weekend and had difficulty finding a campsite. Finally the park at Seven Mile Beach took pity on us and squeezed us in. Turned out to be a great sight looking into pine forest and a fabulous place for bird watching.

Lulu, after checking out the beach at Seven Mile

With Ken needing to crack on with work, us girls headed into Hobart for a little look around. First stop Salamanca and the fairy shop the girls had been told about. I thought i’ll get it out of the way early and then the question of ‘when can we go to the fairy shop?’ would stop. After that we had a little food shopping to do and visit to office works for school supplies.

Serendipity played a lovely role as we discovered the Hobart Cat Cafe was just around the corner and it turns out a lot of cat lovers are also Coeliac as the entire menu was gluten and could be dairy free. What luck. As for the cats, i’ll leave that for Georgie to share.

Our day wasn’t done and I was trying to give Ken as much quiet time as possible so we ventured out of Hobart and to the delightful historic town of Richmond. Along the way we came across the Beatrix Potter garden, another attraction the girls had been wanting to visit. Being so late in the day we had the place to ourselves and the girls loved revisiting these stories they have listened to so often. It couldn’t have been better timing as Georgia had recently been inspired to do an English presentation on Beatrix Potter.

Finally we reach Richmond to visit Australias oldest bridge, built by convicts and opened in 1825. Beautifully restored, and full of charm and character it’s amazing what those poor, unskilled workers accomplished. As we travelled around Tassie time and time again we discovered stories of how the convicts were an efficient and an effective work force. Unfortunately these success stories were short lived as industry couldn’t compete with the volume and quality of convict production. This lead to the convict teams and lines of work being shut down.

Our last couple of days of this week were spent out and about sightseeing. Trying to be out of Kens way meant we where seeing loads of stuff but they were long exhausting days. Back to Hobart for the famous weekend Salamanca Markets, and a little retail therapy. The following day a full day back in Richmond. A yummy brunch, Old Hobart Town (a miniature replica of Hobart as it was in the 1820’s), and the Pooseum.

Yep, you read that right. The Pooseum. Who would have thought, poo could be so fascinating. We spent hours here. A very unassuming building but the quality of the displays, the fun in which the topic is presented and the passion and knowledge of the owner was fabulous. Of all the museum to attractions we have visited around Australia I think both the girls would rank this one right up the top! Educational and funny. Let’s face it, there’s a lot we can learn from poo and who doesn’t love a good fart joke!

Having had a brief sighting of bioluminescence in the waves at Bay of Fires we were intrigued to learn more about it and start noticing posts on Facebook about places to view it around Hobart. Reports had a bloom of this algae near us so after dark, dinner and getting ready for bed we jumped in the car to see what we could find. It was very cold 🥶 and took a bit to coax the girls out the car but once we started splashing and playing in it ……. epic!

Squeals of delight as the sand beneath your feet would magically light up. Every time a wave crashed or someone splashed the water a blue glow would appear. Tassie really is the coolest place, what more hidden treasure are out there?

Bioluminescence in the Hobart ‘burbs!