The Big Lap 2015 – Home Again

We departed from Bundaberg just after 8:00am heading south along the Goodwood Road. Our first destination was Childers where we turned on to the Bruce Highway travelling at a steady pace toward Maryborough. Traffic was reasonably heavy and once again we noted the large number of caravans on the road.

Our great campsite at Bundaberg - even provided with a carport

Our great campsite at Bundaberg – even provided with a carport

The "Park" near our campsite at Bundaberg

The “Park” near our campsite at Bundaberg

At Tiaro, just south of Maryborough, we pulled up for morning tea and a visit to the local Visitor Information Centre. We were impressed by the large amount of local craft and home cooked goods available for sale at the visitor centre and purchased a boiled fruit (very tasty) to take home.

Lovely green of the caravan park at Bridgewater

Lovely green of the caravan park at Bridgewater

After the incident at Paraburdoo, where I reversed into a low post while turning out of the mine site entrance, we had to obtain a quote for insurance repairs and had arranged to meet a repairer in Gympie to examine the van and provide a quote to the Insurance Company. This tradesman does the maintenance service on our van and we are happy with the quality of his work and the customer focus he provides.

One of the great wineries in the Mudgee area

One of the great wineries in the Mudgee area

The Six Mile Creek Rest Area south of Gympie was the place we had agreed to meet the repairer and we pulled in to this well patronised site near midday and parked in a prominent position. While we were sitting in the car waiting there was a loud crash and we thought a tree branch must have fallen on to the caravan. Naturally we quickly got out of the car to see what had happened and discovered that nothing had hit the van but a smallish branch has fallen on the canopy of the truck – it really made a loud noise and we were relieved that there was no apparent damage. However, we later discovered a dent in the body of the truck where the branch had obviously struck it.

We bought great wine in the Mudgee Region

We bought great wine in the Mudgee Region

We ate our lunch and when another caravan in front of us departed, we moved forward to put us out of the way of any other falling debris. Eventually our man arrived and inspected the van. Dave took photos and made notes and before long we were able to get underway on the final short leg of our journey home.

We hadn't even had any tastings to make us this happy

We hadn’t even had any tastings to make us this happy

The time passed very quickly and it wasn’t long before we were back in familiar territory on the coast and we drove into our complex and pulled up in front of our house at 2:45pm. After 111 days on the road we were again home on the Sunshine Coast. We’ve been home now for a couple of weeks and have been busy tidying up after a long absence; weeds grow, dust accumulates and so on. It will be a little while before we travel again so we need to make a final (for this trip) blog post to round things out.

Black Cockatoo at Mayfield Gardens

Black Cockatoo at Mayfield Gardens

Our original plan for the trip suggested we would be away from home for some 154 days so along the way we changed our plans for a variety of reasons (mainly weather – too wet, too cold) and the trip became shorter as a result.  When we travelled further than planned on a number of occasions the trip shortened again and overall we reduced the trip by about six weeks.  The trip was still quite leisurely as the aim of the trip was not to see everything but rather to “fill in the gaps” visiting many places we had not been to in previous journeys.

Beautiful birds at Mayfield Gardens

Beautiful birds at Mayfield Gardens

During our trip we travelled 17,461 kilometres in the truck and towed the caravan for 14,835 kilometres of the journey. There were a few side trips where the caravan stayed at the caravan park where we were based  while we day tripped. We travelled through five States and one Territory during our trip and stayed at 48 different spots (a mix of caravan parks and free camps) during the journey. Accommodation cost us a little over $3,400 despite staying at a number of free camps along the way.

Lovely blooms at Mayfield Gardens

Lovely blooms at Mayfield Gardens

Our favourite caravan park was probably the Bridgewater Public Caravan Park because of the wide expanses of green grass throughout the park, while our least favourite was probably the Aramac Park where there was only lots of red dirt – to be fair though we were in a newly extended area and the country is in the middle of a severe drought.

Roses in bloom at Mayfield Gardens

Roses in bloom at Mayfield Gardens

We stopped for fuel on 53 occasions (occasionally twice on some days) and spent just over $6,000 on diesel purchases (we have a thirsty beast of a truck). Laundry cost us $221 in caravan park laundries where the cost of a load of washing varied between $3 and $5 and if you had to use a clothes dryer (as we did on some wet days) you paid a further $4 or $5 for that.

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Part of the extensive Mayfield Gardens at Oberon

Along the way we took some 7,862 photographs (thank goodness for digital cameras) but we didn’t post all of these in the blog. Many photographs were defective in some way and will ultimately be deleted but sit on the computer in the meantime awaiting further editing.

Margaret happy to reach the top of the track to a lookout in the Blue Mountains

Margaret happy to reach the top of the track to a lookout in the Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters at Katoomba

The Three Sisters at Katoomba

We created many wonderful memories during this trip, as we have on past trips; we met some very nice people along the way and enjoyed their company.  Memorable highlights of our trip included the delightful wine sourced in Mudgee area; the intriguing formations within the Jenolan Caves and the beautiful vistas of Mayfield Gardens at Oberon.

Limestone formations in the Jenolan Caves

Limestone formations in the Jenolan Caves

Limestone formations in the Jenolan Caves

Limestone formations in the Jenolan Caves

Limestone formations in the Jenolan Caves

Limestone formations in the Jenolan Caves

We had our first experience of snow at Mt Hotham on our way to Dinner Plain to visit our nephew and his wife.  Our exploration of Sovereign Hill at Ballarat provided a great day which included the Gold Museum opposite Sovereign Hill.

Snow at Mt Hotham - very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham – very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham - very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham – very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham - very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham – very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham - very early in the season

Snow at Mt Hotham – very early in the season

At Ballarat we also visited MADE (museum of Australian Democracy Eureka) and found the experience and detail of part of the nation’s early history very illuminating.

At Sovereign Hill

At Sovereign Hill

Sir Henry Bolte - Outside the Gold Museum at Ballarat

Sir Henry Bolte – Outside the Gold Museum at Ballarat

Statue of an early miner and his dog in the Gold Museum at Ballarat

Statue of an early miner and his dog in the Gold Museum at Ballarat

"Fat Fat Fat" - says it all at Sovereign Hill

“Fat Fat Fat” – says it all at Sovereign Hill

While staying at Bridgewater we ventured into Bendigo and our exploration of the tram network at Bendigo and the Joss House at the end of the line was most enjoyable.  We also enjoyed the paddle steamers on the river at Echuca and Mildura.

Tram in Bendigo

Tram in Bendigo

The Joss House at Bendigo

The Joss House at Bendigo

Inside the Joss House at Bendigo

Inside the Joss House at Bendigo

Paddle Steamer at Echuca

Paddle Steamer at Echuca

Paddle Steamer at Mildura

Paddle Steamer at Mildura

In Western Australia the wharf at Busselton was really interesting and provided a vast contrast with the one mile jetty at Canarvon where the amount of money spent has obviously been a mere fraction of what has been invested at Busselton.

Bussellton Jetty

Busselton Jetty

Bussellton Jetty

Busselton Jetty

Tram at Bussellton Jetty

Tram at Busselton Jetty

One Mile Wharf at Canarvon

One Mile Wharf at Canarvon

Coffee Pot Tram at One Mile Wharf at Canarvon

Coffee Pot Tram at One Mile Wharf at Canarvon

Coffee Pot Tram at One Mile Wharf at Canarvon

Coffee Pot Tram at One Mile Wharf at Canarvon

The rugged beauty of Karijini National Park and the striking landscape of Windjana Gorge highlights the natural beauty of Australia.  On the Windjana Gorge trip we also enjoyed the thrill of subterranean exploration at Tunnel Creek and heard fascinating stories of the exploits of Jandamarra and the indigenous insurrections in the area.

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Beautiful scenery in Karijini National Park

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Striking landscape at Windjana Gorge

Underground at Tunnel Creek

Underground at Tunnel Creek

Light at the end of the tunnel at Tunnel Creek

Light at the end of the tunnel at Tunnel Creek

Underground at Tunnel Creek

Underground at Tunnel Creek

Normanton and our trip on the Gulflander from Normanton to Croydon was a unique experience that we thoroughly enjoyed.

The Purple Pub at Normanton

The Purple Pub at Normanton

Gulflander Rail-motor

Gulflander Rail-motor

We had budgeted $10,400 for travel expenses during the trip so we came in slightly less than budget in that regard but probably spent the savings on souvenirs and sightseeing. Despite the cost, we thought the trip was really worthwhile and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Until next time – safe travels everyone.

 

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