Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1 September - Back in the Saddle

The first day of spring and the first decent weather for a long time so finally an opportunity to ride a motorcycle. After the two month break the Honda proved the hardest to start so it needed a good battery charge. After towing a caravan around for 7 weeks and nearly 10,000km the sense of freedom on the bike was incredible and it didn't take very long to get back in the groove. And so I took the familiar road to Meeniyan through Mirboo North to have lunch at the Chess cafe operated by my Norwegian friend Gunnar. Hadn't seen him for a long time so we had a good chat about the state of the world, and my travels over a fantastic roast beef sandwich and the usual great coffee. The ride home was fantastic too, with the sun beating down on my back and hardly any traffic. It's great to be back on the bike and I'm looking forward to the next spring day to take the Beemer for a spin.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

27 August - Home Sweet Home

Amazingly we are home. This wasn't the plan but just the way things worked out. We left Toukley Service Centre, north of Sydney at 02:00 after catching a few hours of sleep. This enabled us to navigate around Sydney and on to the M7 with very little traffic. Unfortunately we encountered a fair bit of fog but by 04:00 we reached the next large service centre about 40 km along the Hume Highway. Once again we parked the rig amongst all the large trucks and some other caravans and caught another couple of hours sleep. By 7:00 we were on the road again expecting to reach Bombala or maybe Cann River. We were expecting heavy rain but did not really encounter much more than fine drizzle. Our friends John and Sandra who were travelling from their home in Paynesville to Sydney got in touch and we were able to have a coffee together in Cooma which was great. By the time we reached the coast at Cann River the weather was quite good and we carried on to Lakes Entrance. At Lakes were within 150 km of home and although it meant arriving in the dark the temptation to continue on home was too good to resist. All went well until we reached Stratford. At that point it became dark and the heavens opened to some of the heaviest rain I've experienced. This made the final 60km ride home a 'white knuckle' experience as there are long stretches of roadwork in progress.
So, after a very long day which really started in Nambucca Heads in NSW we made it home. It is cold and wet here and something we haven't experienced for quite a while. Still it is nice to be home. There will be a motorcycle ride the minute this damn rain stops.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

25 August - Nambucca Heads NSW

A glorious day here in Nambucca Heads, NSW, probably our last and against all expectation given the rain and thunderstorms yesterday. This beautiful little town is located on the mouth of the Nambucca river about 60km south of Coffs Harbour. Our caravan park is situated in what must be one of the most beautiful spots on earth. In the above photo the park is in the foreground.
We're using the warm weather to dry out all the damp gear from yesterday which gave us plenty of time to drive into town and up to the local lookout for some great views of the surroundings.
Managed to capture some stunning panoramas which I will process properly when we get home. The limited space and resolution available in Blogger would not do them justice.
As we resume our trek south tomorrow we expect the weather to get much colder and wetter so our stay here in Nambucca is our last real holiday destination. Our progress home will be dictated somewhat by the weather.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

23 August - Yamba - New South Wales

After a little bit of rain overnight, we woke to a beautiful sunny day here in Yamba. For our last Sunday on this trip we enjoyed a 'bacon and eggs' breakfast before setting of to explore this wonderful little seaside town.
After a good look around we decided that this must be one of the best holiday destinations in Australia. Being located on the mouth of the Clarence river, the estuarine environment is absolutely superb and the town has experienced just enough development to make it attractive to a wide range of holiday makers including families and fishermen.
As well as quiet protected beaches there was also plenty of action for surfers, and the more adventurous holiday makers. Add to this beautiful parks and some interesting historical buildings and you have a place we could easily spend a week or two.

Our caravan park is located on the waterfront and the area is a favoured haunt of the local pelicans who no doubt get plenty of food from the local fisherman cleaning their catch. By mid afternoon these wonderful birds are busy enjoying the sea breezes and spend hours riding the winds just above our heads. Later in the afternoon when the fishing boats are expected to return they all flock to the fish cleaning stations for their supper. They seem to be very tame and approachable and I had no trouble taking lots of closeup photos of them.
I really enjoyed just sitting there and watching them wait patiently for the evening catch.

According to the weather bureau, today brings a long run of fine weather to an end. It seems we should expect rain all the way down the east coast for the next few days. Accordingly, I think our adventure is drawing to a close. Tomorrow after we get our windscreen fixed in Coffs Harbour, we will continue to make our way south and re-assess our plans on a daily basis. If cold and wet weather persists we'll put in some longer drives and go home.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

22 August - Yamba - New South Wales

We left Forest Glen this morning right on 09:00. The Forest Glen Resort where we stayed has an onsite restaurant called Spirit of Tibet. We had dinner there last night with another couple from the adjacent caravan and had a great meal and a good time. Our target for today was Yamba which is a beautiful little seaside town located on the mouth of the Clarence River. We made good time and by noon we were on the outskirts of Ballina and we couldn't resist calling in for one of our favourite dining experience - Mango and Macadamia Pancakes at the Macadamia Castle.
Over the years we have called in here many times to enjoy these unique pancakes and this time was no different. The carpark is always full but with a bit of perseverance we always manage to squeeze our rig in somewhere.
Suitably fortified we were ready to tackle the remaining 90kms or so to Yamba where we managed to secure an ensuite site at the Blue Dolphin Resort. We were introduced to Yamba and this caravan park by our friends Jim and Irene some years back and we are looking forward to spending a day here tomorrow - the forecast is for a warm, fine day.
The only negative today was that we suffered a chipped windscreen caused by a stone thrown up by a passing truck this morning. Contacted our insurer and we are booked to get it repaired when we pass through Coff's Harbour on Monday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

19 August - Forest Glen - Sunshine Coast - Queensland

After a great visit with family we left Gympie yesterday to move down to the Sunshine Coast. When we tried booking into all our usual caravan parks we found they were all full, probably with Victorian refugees fleeing the cold weather. We finally found a site in the Forest Glen Big4 which is quite close to Maroochydore. We are here for 4 nights. It was great catching up and it was also wonderful to meet the newest addition to the family - Tilly. She's an incredibly affectionate and calm dog who continually had us in stitches while we were there.
Today it is Wednesday which means one thing around here - a visit to the Eumundie Market which opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
We have visited this market many times over the years and we always enjoy the live music, the coffee and food and the incredible range of quality items for sale. The highlight for me is always a visit to the German Sausage Hut for a  bockwurst with sauerkraut.
The market always features a range of musicians providing live music of a very high quality and today was no exception. I particularly enjoyed this old guy playing live guitar music with his dog sitting on top of the guitar.
I also spend some time listening to a fantastic girl singer accompanying herself on the guitar
as well as a young man performing some excellent blues music.
By noon our bellies were full, our feet were sore and it was time to go. The good weather here continues and we'll decide what to do day by day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

14 August - Gympie, Qld

We arrived in Gympie at noon yesterday. Our van is parked on the front lawn of my sister's place and this is the part of the trip where we enjoy a few days of family catchup time. We enjoyed another beautiful sunny day here and this afternoon I wandered around the streets of Gympie looking to capture some of the architectural aspects. Gympie was a bustling gold mining town from the 1870's onwards and it shows in the quality of some of the civic buildings.
Of course over the last 70 or 80 years many of the old buildings have been covered up with ugly aluminium and glass facades but if you look up above the shops in the main street there are still quite a few verandahs with lacework ornamentation.
Really enjoyed just strolling around and chatting with some of the locals and capturing just the odd detail here and there.
We'll probably be here in Gympie until Tuesday morning when we move onto Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.