The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


4 Comments

Wearing Wobbly Boots at Cape Riche

After leaving Lucky Bay I headed back to Esperance to find a Laundromat, and washing done and dried I travelled towards Ravensthorpe. I hadn’t really thought about where I would stay tonight, but checked out my Camps Book and settled on Munglinup Beach.(NO phone, NO internet!) I hated it! Not fair, I suppose, to make such a judgement because I only stayed overnight, but the road in for about 19kms was rough and dusty corrugation, I wasn’t feeling 100%, the beach was covered in weed, and it was late in the afternooon when I got there and I kept thinking about that horrible road that I had to go out on the next day. I couldn’t wait to leave and get it over with so I was up early the next morning and headed back along that bone-shattering red dust road.

WikiCamps came up with my next overnighter – Tozers Bush Camp on the way to Bremer Bay. I am so sorry I didn’t take any photos here to show you the fanastic set up here.

Funny how something makes you lean favourably toward one thing or another. As a kid we had camping friends by the name of Tozer, and as the reviews in WikiCamps were ok I rang ahead and Robert Tozer assured me there was a spot for me. There was a spot alright – I was the only one there! What a shame this place isn’t better known. Robert has done a great job levelling a lot of sites and has built one of the best amenities blocks I have ever seen. Fantastic hot showers and toilets – luxury – and you should see the Happy Hour/Camp Kitchen he has there. It’s massive, with a huge deck that overlooks his land, and great facilities inside. I finally had internet access here, basically for the first time at a place I had stayed since the start of my journey about two weeks ago . That alone was worth the $20 a night fee – which is probably a bit over the top for what is there. I wish there had been more campers here to enjoy the Camp Kitchen and Happy Hour with, but Robert left to go back to his home in Bremer Bay and I was left with the internet and a brilliant night sky for company. He did say, though, that when the wildflowers are in bloom, he expects his camp to fill up and he has made walk trails over the property for his guests to make the most of what he has to offer here.

I must admit I was a little nervous for the first time ever as I really was in the middle of no-where, and alone! That is, except for the big green frog in the toilet! I left Robert a copy of my Green Frog poem when I departed the next day.

I decided to head to Cape Riche for a few days, and what a good choice that turned out to be.  (apart from NO phone and NO internet again).

Cape Riche

 

IMG_1464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1466 IMG_1468 IMG_1472

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The little birds were really friendly here and hopped all around me – they were kind enough to let me take a couple of photos, too. The one on the left is a White Browed Scrub Wren and the one on the right is a Splendid Blue Wren that becomes a vivid all over blue when it is mating – little show off!

IMG_1478 IMG_1481

 

 

 

 

 

 

Found this photo on the internet to show the colour that little fellow becomes when he is breeding. Now, what female could resist him!

blue wren breeding

I spent a couple of quiet days here and on my last night I was invited to Happy Hour at a neighbouring camp. When I got there I discovered there were three guys on a fishing trip – and me! I drank far too much red wine and staggered back to my camp in my wobbly boots after Noel, Peter and Nigel had cooked up a storm for dinner, which they shared with me. Feeling much the worse for wear the next day I started the day with Panadol and a bottle of water but think I probably should have had it the night before instead of all that wine! The fellas cooked me bacon and eggs for breakfast the next day and while they headed off with their boat to catch some fish I packed up and I was ‘on the road again’!

The amount I am spending on petrol is killing my budget – I need to find a place and just prop for a while. I decided to go to Parry Beach.

 


1 Comment

Sidetracked at Wantabadgery – on the way to Wagga Wagga

Day 3 & 4 – Sandy Beach at Wantabadgery

You know, sometimes you find a camp spot that you’d be happy to spend a bit of time at, and this is one of them. Right on the banks of the river it was a lovely clean, mowed area with picnic tables, a toilet (composting) and water – and plenty of room to camp without being on top of someone else.

Image

Marion and I were a bit cheeky and pulled up either side of a covered picnic table and claimed it as our own while we were there. It wasn’t a problem as it was mid-week and not a lot of people around.

Image

This photo MUST have been taken after 4pm – it looks like Happy Hour is in full swing by the level of my vodka and tonic!

We were camped near some lovely people from Yeoval and they were amazed when I said I had been there – quite by accident of course – when I was bringing Brutus home to the Gold Coast not long after buying him. You’ll have to read my first blog if you want to catch up on that story!

Image

I know, this photo has a fingerprint on it, but it’s one of the few I’ve got outside Marion’s van.

Sandy Beach is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, which Jack made the most of by having several swims. He loves the water almost as much as he loves sticks to play with. And sticks and water together – dog heaven!

We had a couple of lovely days here, the weather was good, the facilities fine, Jack was a happy dog – and I think Marion is getting into the swing of this. A camp site like this certainly helps! If I hadn’t needed to fill up my gas bottle I could have easily stayed a few more days.

Day 5 – Arriving at Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga wasn’t far away so we checked out one of the other freedom camps at Oura Beach on the way there. It had a few more people staying there but once again looked like a good place to go. It was a little closer to Wagga Wagga than Sandy Beach, too. Love the sign going into town!

Image

As you come into Wagga Wagga there is another free camp right on the edge of town at Wilks Park, but I’m so glad we have a cousin here and we were able to stay at their home on acreage a little way out of town.  Wilks Park was right on the highway, and although it had good facilities and gave easy access into town, it was crowded and noisy.

Being here was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Gretchen and Richard, and Marion was thrilled that Richard was able to fix a squeal in her air conditioning. A hot shower and shampoo was very welcome, too.

Jack met some cats for the first time in his life – and they soon let him know who was boss! His ball, another favourite toy, rolled into the horse paddock during one game and that was an interesting encounter to watch. The horse just wanted to be friends but Jack was very wary and couldn’t get out of there quick enough. That was the biggest dog he had ever seen!

We enjoyed a nice evening together before heading further south the next day. The Rutherglen wineries are not far away ……


2 Comments

In the Nick at Avon Downs Police Station

No – I didn’t spend the night in jail, but I did spend the night at the Avon Downs Police Station. (More about being in the nick later). I went to Avon Downs with some volunteers who fund raise for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), and we were cooking and manning the bar for the crowd that had gathered for the annual cricket match between the Queensland and Northern Territory Police. Avon Downs is about 300kms from Mt Isa and about 75kms over the border in the Northern Territory – my first time in the NT!

NT 1

Entering the Northern Territory

NT 2

Northern Territory border

The border is not far from Camooweal and the drive is through the Barkly Tablelands – grasslands.

IMG_0347

Barkly Tablelands

Camooweal has the longest main street in the world – about 200kms – and it goes from Mt Isa to Camooweal. Apart from that the roadhouse there makes a decent coffee, which was very welcome after our 6am start.

The Avon Downs police host the annual cricket match between the Territory and Queensland and there were players from Cloncurry, Mt Isa, Camooweal, Tennant Creek and Avon Downs. A lot of the local ringers, girls and guys, from stations in the area also came along for the day – and night.

We opened the bar about midday and provided much needed refreshments for the cricket teams on this hot day. Part of the fun was the dress-ups – the NT cops really got into it while the Qld team had their maroon jerseys on.

IMG_0337

At the Trough

IMG_0339

The’male’ bag

IMG_0340

Spiderman?

It got pretty hot out on the pitch so a couple of the guys stripped down to these wonderful duct tape g-strings – well, they thought it was a good idea until they had to rip it off!

IMG_0344

Duct tape g-string – painful

It was thirsty work and the beer and bundy flowed until late into the night. We packed up at the ‘cricket ground’ and went over to the Police Station where we set up the bar again and started to cook a barbeque dinner. Everyone was having a great time. A charity auction was held and the bidders were really generous as so many of them had used the services of the RFDS. The crowd was fined throughout the day, too. Fined if they didn’t have an Avon Downs stubby cooler, fined if they hit the cricket ball, fined if they didn’t – they just kept throwing money into the kitty every time they walked past knowing they were going to be fined for something.

IMG_0346

The crowd at the cricket

Between midday on Saturday when we opened the bar and 10am Sunday after we’d served breakfast, and including the result of the auction, about $5000 was raised – a fantastic effort! And a lot of fun…

In the nick! Well, not me, but I didn’t close the bar until this game was over. It was a game of strip volleyball and it was over when all the players, guys and girls, were naked. By this time no-one was feeling any pain and certainly not the chilly night air. I was exhausted, as were the other 3 volunteers I was with and we knew we had to up to cook breakfast the next day. A few sore heads but a happy crowd and our time at Avon Downs Police Station was over.

Travellers – there is a free camp opposite the Avon Downs Police Station but if you are looking for a little luxury for the night you can stay at the Police Station accommodation – like a motel suite – for $15 a night for the room. There is a fully equipped kitchen, good hot showers and a washing machine.

IMG_0350

We’re going home!

IMG_0354

Kerry, Joy and Dave – fellow volunteers

IMG_0355

It must have been this cuddle that did it – Dave has asked me to help out at a car rally in a couple of weeks – catering for about 300 people. I should have recovered from Avon Downs by then!


2 Comments

From Tassie to the Gold Coast – Bringing Brutus Home

Brutus and I met on the internet, the way so many relationships start these days. He was older than I had hoped and lived in Tasmania while I was on the Gold Coast, but all obstacles can be overcome if you are meant to be together.

I asked my sister, Marion, who lives in Tasmania and whose judgement I trust implicitly, to check him out for me and she rang me excitedly to tell me that he was very well preserved for his age. He was clean and tidy and had a good body and she felt we would make a good team, so I booked my ticket and went off to meet him.

It was love at first sight! His last partner was sorry to see him go and gave me instructions on what he did and didn’t like, how to get him started in the morning and how to jiggle the key to his heart so he would let me in. I soon found out that Brutus had a stubborn streak and was reluctant to go backwards, but 10 minutes of therapy and we soon sorted that out. We stayed with Marion for a few days and then she insisted we had our first night alone before we came back to the Gold Coast to live.

I shouldOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA have known that our detours that day were a sign of things to come! As I’d missed meeting up with some new motor home friends, Rick and Janis, at Friendly Beaches on the Freycinet Peninsula, Marion suggested Mayfield Bay as a good place to go, so with a decadent little side track to Kate’s Berry Farm near Swansea, I headed south to the beach.

Well, I missed thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe turn off heading south and ended up at Triabunna, turned around and blow me down if I didn’t miss the turn off when I was heading north as well. Decided that perhaps I was meant to go to Friendly Beaches after all, so that’s where I headed off to. (To get there – 175kms – should have been 60kms if I’d headed straight there!)
What a magic spot! Not a soul around, so Brutus, my 1986 Ford Econovan and I settled down for a quiet night. Lesson Number 1 – position the van facing into the wind, not side on to it. We were buffeted by strong winds the whole night but Brutus kept me warm and comfortable. The next morning I shared my breakfast with a wallaby after a refreshing walk along the beach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was soon time to start my journey home. We left Marion’s at Kalangadoo, near Lake Leake and headed to Devonport (185kms away) to catch the Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne. The countryside was beautiful …. and the Berry Farm and Ashgrove Cheese Factory pleasant diversions along the way. I just love the beautiful raspberries in Tassie!

An uneventful Bass Strait crossing, and I arrived in Melbourne and off the boat about 7am Saturday morning. I spent 3 nights with my Aunty Mollie – 94 years young – and left there exhausted after going out for dinner every night I was there. She’s got more energy than I have!

My next stop was to catch up with my old school friend Bob, who lives in Warrak, about 20kms from Ararat in Western Victoria. (240kms from Melbourne). Bob tested Brutus out on a drive to a beautiful spot that looks out over the fields to Langi Ghiran National Park and across to Mount Buangor. Very pretty country and spectacular views.
I left Bob’s about midday after a lazy start – destination Echuca.

I was determined to stay on the Murray River somewhere, but ended up in a caravan park at Moama on the NSW side of the Murray. It was only after Brutus and I got settled that I realised the park was under the bridge between Echuca and Moama , so it wasn’t the quietest night I’ve ever enjoyed. However, I got out my Camps 6 book and started planning my next night’s stop – time to get out of the comfort of caravan parks and into the wild!

Echuca-Moama

My planning didn’t work because I made better time than I expected so I kept driving – and driving, and driving. Finally I passed a sign to Goobang National Park camping ground just south of Peak Hill and decided that was the place to go. The name should have been a warning. I missed the turn off – I’m good at that – but saw another one about 70 kms further on at Tomingley so I thought – ok, I’ve been given a second chance to go there, so off I went. 42kms off the highway I see the sign to the camping ground. Thoughts of isolation, National Parks, and Ivan Milat and I decided this wasn’t for me, so working on the theory that Brutus prefers to go forwards, not backwards, I kept following the road to get back to the highway.

By this time I had done 618kms from Moama to Tomingley and then added another 150kms with this little diversion that put me, via a town called Yeoval, back on the highway south of Peak Hill,– yep, at the turn off I’d originally missed! Pitch black at this stage and I’m sooo tired so headed off to yet another caravan park at Peak Hill. For those travelling through Peak Hill I can thoroughly recommend the Double D Caravan Park. Apart from the fact it was in Bogan Rd, which I have to admit did give me a moment’s hesitation, everything about it was great. Friendly owners, not too many sites, hot clean showers, off the highway and quiet. I put up the roof, got into my pj’s and went straight to bed. (Total mileage today – 770kms – too much!)

Lesson I learned – have back up plans.

So, out with the Camp 6 book again and I picked out a pretty good looking road side stop south of Moree for Friday night. Back up plan was the Moree Showgrounds, which offered camping also. I’m feeling good about Friday and gaining confidence with my travel plans. Silly me!

I stopped at Gilgandra for the worst coffee and a bite of a stale lamington – so bad I couldn’t finish either – and headed off – next stop Coonabarabran. Well, I followed a road heading to a C but it was Coonamble, not Coonabarabran. Whoops, another detour! Another 200kms added to my trip. Another tank of petrol! Another place I hadn’t planned to see. I really will have to brush up on my navigation! Or plug in the GPS!

What did I learn? It’s only 3 hrs to Lightning Ridge from Coonamble, and if I didn’t have a job to come home to I would have just kept driving!  I finally made it to Coonabarabran and headed north to Moree. I pulled in to my first choice of stopover, had a look around, and had my doubts. When in doubt, don’t, has stood me in good stead over the years, so off I headed for Plan B, the Moree Showgrounds. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got there, a big sign – CLOSED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 30TH. Whoops – no Plan C! Out with the book again and there’s a road side stop about 10 kms north of Moree, so that’s where I headed and that’s where I stayed. Bloody noisy trucks whizzing by on the Newell all night but after another big day driving it didn’t take long to fall asleep. ( Total approx 570kms today – 200kms less than yesterday, but far enough!)

Sights along the way – wish I’d stopped and taken photos –don’t know why I bother having a camera
• huge fields of canola – bright yellow amongst rich red ploughed earth and brilliant green crops.
• The Warrumbungles providing a stunning back drop
• Emus in fields – can’t help but get excited about that! Especially the mother and baby on the side of the road – made my heart glad!emu & chick
• A little goanna risking becoming road kill as it darted from one side to the other – phew – made it! Some wombats and kangaroos not quite so lucky – although not as much road kill as I expected to see. And what there was, the crows were making short work of. They have to have some use in life, horrible birds…..

I wake up early, look at my map, and I’m thinking the Gold Coast and home is in striking distance. Only 570 kms to go. I’m going for it!

Brutus climbed through Cunningham’s Gap without a worry. But oh boy, did he hate the climb out of Canungra. Almost home and poor old Brutus let me know that short sharp hills are not something he likes. By the way I share that sentiment. Both he and I were very relieved to arrive home safe and sound at about 3pm Saturday afternoon.

Biggera Waters for Blog

I’m really happy with the way Brutus travelled. Very comfortable to live in but he chews through the petrol, so I will definitely be planning my trip in the future with a petrol budget in mind. Now that I’m home I realise that only about 10% of what I’d put aside for my new lifestyle will ever get used, so the next cull of possessions is happening. Also, I have a sticky door lock on the driver’s side and often have to climb in through the passenger side – not my best angle if you happen to be going past!

Brutus is now a commuter vehicle for the next few months until I finish my working life, but I can’t wait for the time that I can take that detour to Lightning Ridge, or any other place, without any time constraints and the absolute freedom to go where I want, when I want, and the only thing stopping me will be my petrol budget!

Give me a wave when you see me – there’s always good coffee and cold wine at the ready and Brutus and I look forward to making new friends.