Doing Cup Day Hervey Bay Style

We would be lying if we said we didn’t miss anything about Melbourne, since moving to Hervey Bay earlier this year. There are some great things about Melbourne. One of those is The Melbourne Cup. We never needed to go to Flemington to have a wonderful Cup Day in Melbourne, there was always a friend putting something on. Normally, a barbeque and a sweep and a few bets, surrounded by good friends.

In Queensland, it’s a little different, for starters, it’s not actually a public holiday. In saying that, it surprised me how many people still seemed to be dressed up in their shirts and dresses, fascinators on and out and about.

Getting ready for Cup Day in Hervey Bay

We chose to check out one of our most loved hang outs here, Crafty Cargo. It was $100 per head, which included unlimited craft beer on tap (selected choices), a couple of cocktail options, champagne and a constant flow of delicious canapes being walked around from 12pm to 3:30pm. The staff and owners there did an absolutely amazing job. They had fashions on the field, which encouraged all of the guests to dress up, making the day feel Verry Elleegant.

Craft beer, it’s in our hearts.
Before the crowd.

For those of you who live in this area and haven’t been to Crafty Cargo, give them a go! Especially, if you have an appreciation for great Aussie craft beer. They only stock beer from independent breweries and they’re always fresh, with a good selection on tap. For those who don’t like beer, they also serve other drinks. There is a kitchen and also a little arcade game area.

After Crafty’s we went for a stroll, ending up at The Torquay for one, we walked some more down to The Beach House. That’s where more drinks and pool tables took over the night. The conclusion, Hervey Bay puts on a decent Cup Day.

Looking forward to doing it all again next year

Long Weekend at Gootchie Creek

Camping at Gootchie Creek Escape

Over the Queen’s birthday long weekend Ben and I dusted off our Blue Water “Murray” camper trailer, hooked up the Prado and headed to Gootchie Creek Escape for a long-awaited camp. Since we moved to Queensland, we have been chomping at the bit to get out and explore some of our local camp areas. The extended work break and an invitation from our neighbors finally allowed that.

Gootchie Creek Escape is approximately a one-hour drive from our new home in Hervey Bay. You’ll find it situated right between Maryborough and Gympie (just over 30 minutes from each town).

Looking from the top of the hill (toilet block) down to the main camp area.

This trip was different from what we are used to. There was no fishing or crabbing and really not much to do besides relax, have a beer and meet new people.

Gootchie Creek Escape seems to us that it less about the location and more about the company. There is nothing particularly off-putting about this spot. In the same breath, there is nothing particularly attractive about it either. It is basically an extra-large paddock, complete with cattle, with a body of water that campers set up around. The body of water isn’t good for fishing, nor is it very big or clean but it is still good for a paddle if it is hot enough. I would imagine it to be more impressive after a good dose of rain. There is an abundance of turtles in the water, unknowingly keeping onlookers entertained by sunning themselves on logs and popping their heads up for air intermittently.

Nevertheless, our neighbors at home, Megan and Dave and their two kids, Hunter and Ella, became our neighbors at camp, setting up their caravan next to our camper. My Mum and Dad also came along, setting up on the other side of us. One thing we have found challenging since moving states is meeting new people. Lucky for us, Megan and Dave had invited a few camps of friends and we got to know some very interesting new people.

Camping is always made better by the people you are camping with. For us, this really was what our long weekend was about. Relaxing days, staying out of the direct sun and cheerful nights chatting to new friends.

The staff at Gootchie Creek Escape went to a lot of effort to add some extras to their paddock for the long weekend. They had Yo Dough come in and make wood-fired pizza (pre-order only) Saturday and Sunday night, which we didn’t partake in, only due to the amount of food we had all bought with us. They had a talented couple provide chilled music covers around a big campfire and also set up a projector screen, playing a movie for the kids on Saturday night. The NRL Grand Final was on the projector Sunday night (unfortunately, with a couple of teething problems and reception issues). We definitely scored them an A+ for effort with these activities.

For those thinking about visiting, you can book online or give them a call. It is pretty cheap at $15 per adult and $10 per child, per night. There are no powered sites available but once you are in, you can camp wherever you like. There is a relatively new toilet and shower block, which is a short drive or a decent walk from the main camp area. In saying that, you can camp as close to it as you like. There is a dump point at reception ($3.00 to use it). The friendly reception staff also offer barista-made coffee at certain times. Gootchie Creek Escape is dog-friendly, it has some shady spots available and a small play area for kids with plenty of extra space for them to run around. You’ll need to take your rubbish home, although they do provide recycling bins for all of your cans and bottles.

Inspired By Lady Elliot

Lady Elliot Island from the plane window.

It has been a while since I last added to my blog. Yesterday was my 39th birthday. As a gift, my husband, Ben, took me to Lady Elliot Island and oh boy, it is worth writing about. The day not only reminded me how important little adventures are but it also inspired me to get back into blogging and so here I go.

Lady Elliot Island is the southernmost coral clay of the Great Barrier Reef. It is around 80km north-east of Bundaberg. You can get there by boat or plane, they have an airstip that runs down the center of the Island. For us, as we live in Hervey Bay now, it was a 35 minute flight on a smallish plane.

The adventure started the minute we boarded. From the air we saw our beautiful new home town in a new light. We then saw Fraser Island, and as a natural bonus, it happens to be whale season and so we got to see a few of the majestic humpbacks from above. When you first get a glimpse of Lady Elliot from the air, you can’t help but inhale and hold it for a moment. It is absolutely beautiful.

When you land, the smiles and enthusiasm that meets you, in the form of the island staff makes you feel so welcome. There is an itinerary for the day but there is no pressure, you can literally do whatever you feel like doing. In our day trip, everything was included. We had a locker to use for the day, which was super handy when you are in and out of the water. They provided towels, snorkel gear and a buffet lunch. You can stay at the Lady Elliot Eco Resort. If you are a day guest, you are welcome to it’s facilities.

We took a stroll on the island while we awaited our glass bottom boat and snorkel tour. Our guide pointed out all of the features and then we were free to roam. The Lagoon is a shallow reef, which basically surrounds the south-east side of the Island. You can walk in at low tide and at high tide you can snorkel the warm waters right off the beach, without being in water any deeper than an adults shoulders. Marine life is abundant and before we even entered the water, we started seeing marvelous finned friends swimming in the shallows. A few black tipped predators could even be seen stalking them.

Although the water was a little choppy, there was no stopping us from snorkeling the outer reef off the glass bottom boat. The world below the water at Lady Elliot is amazing. It boasts that it is ‘the home of the manta ray’ and we were lucky enough to swim beside one of these gentle giants. As their big flaps lift so do your spirits, they were an absolute treat. As were the abundance of healthy looking corals, that happily showcased their resident fish. From big rock cod hiding under ledges, to trevally and glowing parrot fish, to smaller fish that seemed only too happy for you to see their brilliant colour up close.

When we got back, we were more than ready for some food. The buffet lunch, although simple, was fresh and enjoyable. They have a well stocked bar where we were able to purchase some drinks.

After lunch, there was nothing else to do but head back to The Lagoon area, where the promise of meeting my favorite marine creature was looming. There was a green flag our tour guide had pointed out, she said that if we headed for it, seeing one of the wonderful “flippered” reptiles was a huge possibility. So we donned our snorkel gear again and did just that. The water in the lagoon is easy to snorkel and there is so much to see. We looked and looked and got excited about all of Lady Elliot’s amazing sea life that takes refuge in the green zone.

As we swum over a small ledge in a deeper part of the reef Lady Elliot really delivered. Tucked partially under some rock and coral, we saw one… a green sea turtle resting. My excitement soared, for as long as I can remember, I have been jealous of all of the people I see on the television getting close to a wild turtle and now I was doing it. We looked over him a few times, taking in the glorious patterns on his shell and his flippers and his gentle black eyes. We stood up and took a moment to celebrate, we’d done it, we’d seen one! As we started to make our way back to shore, another smaller turtle appeared, causally grazing a top of the coral. Not a care in the world, not even for the humans ogling him within extremely close proximity.

A refreshing shower and a couple of a beers later, we were back on the plane for our ride back home. Again, we spotted some whales, Fraser then Hervey Bay from above. A pub dinner and cake with my parents to top it off. It all added up to a birthday I’ll never forget. Alongside my Weipa birthday (able to be read about in a previous blog), I am unsure it can ever be beaten. I am so thankful to Ben for this amazing day and also for the photos he took that you see in this post.

If you are looking for a great trip, you love snorkeling or diving or just love being close to nature, then look at Lady Elliot Island and Eco Resort, it is nothing short of magical.

Home: Back In Melbourne

We arrived back at our little home in Hampton Park three weeks ago today, just a few days before Ben’s birthday. There was a small sense of excitement when we were on our way back. In three days, we drove over 2,500km from Townsville to get home. Only a couple of our friends knew we were coming home, to everybody else it was a surprise.

In 11 months we…

  • travelled through 3 states
  • stayed at 35 different camp sites
  • went to more than 34 different pubs
  • changed 2 tyres
  • had 1 bullbar fall off
  • hit 1 kangaroo (on the morning of our last day on the road)
  • caught more than 42 fish (mostly Ben)
  • saw over 50 different waterways and beaches, we swam or fished in over half of them

It is fair to say, we had the time of our lives.

So, what is it like being back? If we had a dollar for every time somebody asked us this question since we got home, we would be able to afford the repairs and alternations we are having done on the camper trailer and then some. What is it like? Well, three weeks in it almost feels like our trip was a really nice dream that we had. Perhaps we would believe it was just a dream if there wasn’t still red dust stuck to parts of the Prado. As annoying as the red dust is, there is part of me that is reluctant to wash it away. It is a good reminder that there is a whole world out there still waiting for us to discover more of it.

Yes, we missed our friends and family and yes, it was an awesome feeling being able to catch up with everybody. Since being back we have appreciated small things, like having a drink and a face to face chat with friends, being there for our family, sitting down at a dinner table, watching our nephews and neice and our friends kids smile and play but we keep feeling this strange itch. The itch is caused by a part of us that is anxious about falling too hard back into old routines, that part of us will never allow us to forget how great life on the road really is. It is like finishing the most delicious meal you have ever eaten and then being told straight after that you can not have that meal again for a long time.

Home is a little like prison for us, even though our friends and family can come and visit, we are trapped inside. We have to stay here until our sentence is finished and we are just waiting for the day we will be free again. After 11 months and acclimatising to 30+ degrees every day up north, Melbourne is a very cold prison indeed. Sorry, about the graphic metaphore we have been watching a lot of Wentworth lately. It’s definitely not all doom and gloom though, we have some fun events and things to look forward to while we are here and we plan to make the most of the time we spend with friends and family now that we have a new appreciation for their closeness. It really is great to see everyone again.

The camper trailer is at Blue Water getting repaired and upgraded at the moment and this is probably a good thing, because having it sitting in the garage, within easy reach, would be a little bit like torture for us. The Prado is a enjoying a little rest. Ben has been working hard and I am waiting to start work, which will happen next week. The dogs are loving having comfy bed each inside but being in a backyard again after their exciting beach and bush life has taken a little getting used to for them.

Summer isn’t too far away and this year we are definitely looking forward to it. We will welcome the sun and the heat, then again, it might make us miss the road even more. For now, we plan to work hard, make some money, sort out our house and work towards a bigger trip next time around.

I also just wanted to write a special note to all of those people we met on the road… you guys are awesome and we won’t forget you. There are some who are particularly special and we hope to see you all again in a different spot in this incredible country of ours.

A recap on some of the greatest times…

Thursday Island, The Tip and Weipa

Firstly, let me explain my reasons for lack of blogs lately… little to no reception, fishing and basically just doing other things. Here is some of the photos of our journey through Cape York that I could not show you last time due to reception issues.

It took eight days for the mechanic in Seisia to get the bearings for our Prado and fix the car. During those eight days we started feeling a little restricted. We were in one of the most remote and best areas in Australia but we couldn’t really explore it because the car wasn’t in good enough shape. Ben was going fishing at Seisia Wharf two and sometimes three times daily and I was accompanying him at least once a day. We would walk along the Seisa Beach admiring it’s beauty but all the while wishing that soon the car would be fixed and we would make it to the tip of Australia.

During our wait in Seisia, we thought why not catch the ferry to Thursday Island and have a look around. The ferry ride is just over an hour from Seisia Wharf to Thursday Island. The water keeps your attention, it is so clear and the layers of different shades of blue stretching across its body are amazing.

We did a tour on Thursday Island with a local called Dirk. It is just $25 for the tour, this includes a drive around town to look at all of the main buildings then a walk around the war history museum. After this you see their cemetery and get to learn a little about the pearl driving that went on around Thursday Island and then it is off the crayfish farm. Ben bought one live crayfish just over 2kg for $60 (delivered to the wharf at our ferry departure time) and that was our dinner that night.

Finally, last Tuesday our car went into the mechanic and got fixed and suddenly we were free again! The next morning we were up early and headed for the red roads again. We visited Somerset on the way up, which was lovely and really made you realise how close to the edge of our continent we really were. We then drove all the way to The Tip (Punjinka). At low tide you can walk along the beach and up a small shelf of rocks to get to the famous sign and so this is what we did. The dogs had travelled all of this way with us and so we thought it was only fair that we walked them to The Tip too.

Standing on The Tip of Australia is a surreal feeling, we were almost as far away as we ever could get from home without being out of the country. There is something about reaching The Tip that makes you smile, it is an achievement, a trophy, a reward for roughing it that you never even asked for or expected. There is a certain amount of proudness that all Aussie’s can feel when they stand on that point. If you are a proud Aussie, try and make it to The Tip one day, you won’t be disappointed. While at the top we visited The Croc Tent, which is bascially a sovenier shop and Punsand Bay. Punsand Bay is home to the famous Corrugation Bar and there is a beautiful campground there. We would have loved to have been able to spend a couple of nights there but our extended stay in Seisia due to the car issues stopped that from happening. Next time we do The Tip the Telegraph Track will be on our agenda.

Our time and money was starting to run short and so Thursday morning we were up and out of Seisia and headed to Weipa. The road to Weipa was a long, dusty and corrugated one. It would be six hours before we would hit the smooth bitumen roads of Weipa, this was the first time in 10 months that we have actually headed South instead of North.

If you have any interest in fishing, Weipa, is like a famous rock star of the fishing world. Every keen Aussie fishermen has a dream to make it to Weipa one day. Weipa is by no means a large town but it does have handy shops like a bakery, pharmacy and Woolworths, which are rare or non-existent further North. Thanks to mining it has all of the essentials and prices for food and fuel are a little more normal. The caravan park here is huge and within walking distance of the shops.

Started 10/09/17 – Continued 14/09/17

Weipa is an amazing place, especially for fisherman. The waterways, although full of crocs and sharks, are stunning. There is a good selection of spots for land based fishing, which is great for us. In the first few days we were here Ben landed quite a few good sized Queenfish and a big Golden Trevally. Since then he has been consistently catching Queenfish and has caught a few smaller fish and some barracouta. I have even caught two Queenies and an alligator garfish.

We have made friends with our neighbours here at Weipa. Janice and George are two seventy something year olds. They have been to Weipa on several occasions, so they know the area quite well. They like to go fishing and George loves it almost as much as Ben does, so they have been going fishing together here and there. Janice and George live and on a lime farm in central Queensland. They are here for a holiday with their friends Kev and Howard, who are also our neighbours and are very nice guys.

We have fished off the wharf and under the bridge here. Ben fished off the beach one morning and there was one day when we headed out to Red Beach with Janice and George then Kev and Howard came later. Red Beach is called this because it is, in fact, a red beach. Instead of sand it has tiny round red pebbles and then the blue, salty water stretches out before it. I loved this spot because the pebbles are comfortable to sit on and as you watch the water you see fish jumping and sharks lurking.

We went to a place called Pennefather a couple of days ago. It takes almost an hour to drive there from Weipa. The roads out there are red and dusty, like many of the other roads up here but the corrugation isn’t too bad. When you finally reach Pennefather, the road turns from red compact dirt to soft sand. We reduced our tyre pressure and pushed on, leading Howard and Kev, who haven’t got much four wheel drive experience onto the sand. The tracks lead you through scrub and then out onto the sand dunes. The drive is great and is like nothing we have done up until now. Ben drove the dunes in low range, bumping along the tracks and we both admired the remote beauty of the white sand and occasional brown, dry grasses. There are tracks everywhere, winding around the dunes but if you stick to the high ones, lower your tyre pressure and keep your speed low your chances of getting bogged in the sand are fairly low.

The tracks lead out to, what seems like miles of beautiful beach and a small, remote camping ground. There are rolling dunes in the back ground and the coast line waves along creating shallow beaches, drop offs, points and a few rocks to fish off. We had a great day there and Ben caught a big thick lip Trevally, which we all had for dinner that night.

When you fish ‘under the bridge’ in Weipa, you have the choice of standing on a concrete platform to fish or on the beach area. The platform is the more popular and more croc-wise place to stand. Ben has seen some big barramundi pulled in at this spot but unfortunately they weren’t on his line. There is a hefty one way bridge that crosses this part of the water, it has a train line that also crosses it right next to the roadway.

I had my birthday in Weipa, I turned 35 and what a way to spend it… Corona’s with fresh lime, birthday cake, swimming in the pool and a lovely sunset cruise to top it off. There was supposed to be nineteen other people on our cruise but Ben and I were the only ones who showed up. The other nineteen were supposed to arrive on a tour bus but they cancelled and somebody failed to notify the skippers. So one of the tour guides gave us the choice of refunding our money, coming back a different day or to go out anyway even though it would only be us two and the skipper on board. As it was my birthday present we decided to go out anyway. Ben asked if he could bring a fishing rod on board and the skipper was happy for him to do so. Our sunset wildlife cruise turned into a two hour, trolling, fishing, eating and drinking cruise. We had the whole boat to ourselves… not to mention we had access to all of the nibbles that had been prepared for 21 people and all of the beers and champagne. Neither of us could have asked for a better sunset cruise. It is not every day you get to spend your birthday in such a magical place.

Continued 16/09/17

On Thursday we went for a drive out to Mapoon, which is an aboriginal community about an hour from Weipa. We had heard that the fishing there was great and our neighbours, Janice and George, were keen for us to accompany them out there. The beaches in Mapoon are not white, the sand is a light brown colour and is full of large shells and dead coral. Ben and I were both of the opinion that this place was not as nice as Weipa. We did a bit of beach fishing but there was very little good live bait to be seen. After a few hours of trying to fish and trying to get bait we gave up on Mapoon and headed back to Weipa, hot and tried.

Both Ben and I attempted to get work in Weipa. Ben was trying to get into the mines there and I tried at the bakery, Woolworths and at the local vet. The promise of work was real but it was taking too long for the mines to get Ben’s induction, interview and medical sorted out. When they told him he would have to wait around a month just for him to start training we knew that staying in Weipa wasn’t going to be an option. We needed work and money and we needed it soon.

We considered a few possibilities but after much deliberation, on Friday morning, we left Weipa and headed South again back to a place we know well… Townsville. The guy Ben was working for in Townsville previously was happy to have him back and it looks likely that I will pick up some shifts at JCU again.

On our way back to Townsville we stopped in Mareeba overnight. There is an old style drive-in there that allows you to stay overnight and watch two movies for just $14 per head. It was a unique place to camp, with the added bonus of some old school entertainment. They only have movies there on Friday and Saturday nights so it was lucky that it happened to be a Friday afternoon when we arrived there. What a great stop over!

Continued 26/09/17

We have been back in Townsville now for just over a week and both of us have been working since the day after we arrived. Ben is back to laying bricks and blocks six days per week and I am working nights at JCU Vet Emergency. It was good to come back and see the staff at Coral Coast Caravan Park, they literally welcomed us back with open arms. We sat in the TV room Saturday night and watched the Tigers beat GWS and get into the Grand Final so we are now awaiting the BIG game on Saturday.

Cooktown to Cape York (Written 29/8/17 & 31/8/17)

Cooktown was supposed to be a short stay for us, two or three nights, we said at first. It is a place that kept our attention and intrigued us more than most places do. It is a smaller town than what we had imagined it would be but you do have access to all of the essentials and it is not too remote.

The vibe that Cooktown gives off is interesting to say the least. There is a great small community feel. It holds what appears to be a very even mixture of indigenous people, other Aussie’s, working travellers and tourists and seems to balance them all very well. You see the same faces in the shops and streets as you do in the pub and at your accommodation so the place feels familiar and comfortable quickly.

The fishing off the wharf is probably the best pier based fishing we have seen thus far. The locals tell us that it is the quiet season for fishing but they are still catching Spanish Mackeral, Queenfish and big Trevally off the wharf. Ben was up early most mornings, joining the locals on the wharf with a line or two in the water. He caught a 6kg Spanyard and a nice school mackeral and also a queenfish for eating. There was also some smaller fish and some travelly, which he put back.

Cooktown’s main area has The Lure Shop (bait, tackle and hunting store, very helpful staff), IGA, two bottle shops, a butcher, a camping store, a couple of aboriginal art and history places, The Croc Shop (souvenir and gifts) and a budget variety store. There is a couple of pubs there plus the RSL and Bowls Club. The one pub that we visited almost daily was The Top Pub, it was literally across the road from Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park where we were staying. This old hotel is like a heart that beats at the centre of Cooktown, feeding blood and life to the rest of it. You will find that most of the locals spend a little or a lot of time here each week.

If you know Ben and me, then you will know that we both enjoy playing pool. It is, in fact, how we met each other in the first place. The Top Pub in Cooktown allows the locals to showcase and hone their pool skills like no other pub we have seen. The pool table is in great condition and in a perfect location. Tourists are more than welcome to join in and try and beat the locals. Pool competitions are held not once, not twice but three times per week at The Top Pub. Everybody seems to play. There is a mesmerising type of interest and respect for pool in that pub that we have not seen anywhere else. The table brings people together. When there is no competition on, you simply write your name on the chalk board and the winner of each game plays the next person on that list. The system works well, it allows anybody (whether they know the people on the table or not) to try their hand at beating the current game winner and stops people from having to wait too long to get a game. All of the locals have their own cues and some of them even go as far as having pool gloves. It is just $10 to enter the pool competitions and prize money is normally $200 for the winner. So if you love a game of pool and fancy yourself against people who can actually play, add Cooktown to your places to see before you die, you will not be disappointed.

Alby and his 10 year old son, Jackson are two locals that really stood out. Alby taught Jackson to play pool and for a 10 year old he has an incredible amount of focus. He takes shots that most kids would not even see and plays better than a lot of adults who have been potters all of their lives. It is a common site to see his and his dad’s name on the chalk board on competition nights. Harry, the local builder, is also around most of the time, he is a tall man and a good player and is hard to knock off the table on a good day. His current girlfriend, Robyn, is a free spirit and loves a hit on the table. Brian and Stan, two older gentlemen, that are rarely seen apart, often take their seats on the stools beside the table. They will observe quietly for a while but it won’t be long until they too add their names to the chalk board and pick up a cue. The local indigenous people, Les and his sons and friends are seen often and in the pool comps. Vinnie, an ex-commercial fisherman, lives upstairs at the pub, he knows the town well, maintains and cleans the pub and is a keen player. Loud Dan (“Keno”), is somebody who is hard to forget, he is a large guy who loves Keno, hence his nickname and cheers loudly for his numbers. He is a handy pool player and is intense but fun to be around. Michael the current publican, likes to sit around and have a beer with his locals and gives off a welcoming vibe without being too forward. The girls behind the bar are very good at their job, they are helpful and complete The Top Pub nicely. You will get great smiles and good conversation from most of them.

In the couple of weeks we were at Cooktown I ended up doing a few shifts at The Top Pub to try and top up our funds a little before we headed for Cape York. I worked behind the bar for three shifts and then did housekeeping for three shifts. The experience was really good. It let me get a feel for hospitality. The bar work was a sink or swim sort of experience, I was told to just jump in and see how I went and that is what I did. Pouring drinks and learning the till wasn’t too bad but putting through Keno was a little stressful at times. Housekeeping demands attention to detail and is physically challenging but gives your mind a chance to breathe and relax.

Ben took the Prado to Tyrepower in Cooktown to get the wheels aligned and the tyres rotated as we still have the same tyres on the front that the bulbar fell onto while we were in Corryong. After they looked at it they told us that the bearings needed doing, as did the bushes and the ball joints and all of this, with the parts shipped in from Cairns was going to be around $1500. This kind of money was really going to put a dent in the money we had saved to do the Cape. It would have been foolish not to get it done before hitting the rough roads though. Ben chats to people, especially locals, while he is out and about and while he is fishing. This is a very good thing. A local at the pier told him to try a different mechanic, about 10 minutes out of town in Martin called Dion. So, Ben took the car there. He looked at it and told us that everything looked good besides the back brakes, which were squealing because the brake pad was almost gone. He ordered the pad for us and fit it and fixed a shocker for $180 cash, saving us the $1500 that Tyrepower quoted.

We made friends with our neighbours at the park we stayed in. Carol and Wayne, who are in their sixties, they are both lovely, they love to travel, to have a chat and they love a drink… so needless to say we got along well with them. We exchanged some of Ben’s fresh caught fish with them for a couple of loaves of their fresh baked bread. We had some happy hours at the pub with them and some drinks in camp. We could not have asked for better neighbours, thanks guys!

By this time, we had spent around two weeks in Cooktown, we were spending more money than I was making in my few shifts at the pub and the longer we stayed the less money we were going to have to do the Cape. So, finally, we made the decision to leave. We left reluctantly, we could have very happily stayed much longer. Generally, we tend to spend a lot less money while we are moving than when we stop in one place for a while.

Back on the road, headed North again, knowing that we were slowly but surely running out of road that continued North. The road we did have left, lead us toward Cape York. Although the kilometres on the map looked short compared to the distance we had already travelled, the roads are rough and rugged and our travel would be slow and more risky than anywhere else we had been thus far.

It isn’t long after you leave Cooktown that you start to see the redness of the land pass by the car windows and then after that the road turns red as well. The road is exactly what you would expect if you have done your research. They are red, dusty with loose sandy gravel covering patches of corrugation, rocks, dust holes and smooth patches. There are some breaks of bitumen in between the dirt, which are a welcome site, but then sure enough the dirt patches return and the car shakes again. The ant hills seem to get taller as you drive and the trees and dry grasses change all of the time.

It took us three days to drive to Seisia, which is where we currently are. Our first stop was at Musgrave Station. A well set out outback service station that sells food, drinks and alcohol with a large grassy campground to one side of it. At the back of the campground, there is a small, still waterway, which is home to a number of turtles and fresh water crocs.

After Musgrave we drove six hours, through Coen (where we saw wild dogs), making it to Bramwell Junction Roadhouse. This place does not sell alcohol and although it has food available they may stop serving food early when it is quiet. The campground is large, grassy and pleasant, as are the amenities. The ant hills surrounding it are very tall and very red and by the time you reach Bramwell everything else will be red too… your car, your camper, your clothes, your dishes, everything. Even the trees and shrubs that line the road cannot escape a light but obvious covering of red dust.

To get to Seisia from Bramwell Junction you must cross more corrugation, more sand, more red dust and then the Jardine River. It was $130 for ourselves, the car and the camper to go over the Jardine on the ferry. The ride takes just a minute or two on the small open ferry. The $130 covers your return ride on the ferry also and gives you a permit to camp on the grounds above the Jardine. It is an impressive river, wide and clear brown in colour, it is the longest and largest in The Cape.

We were nearly at Bamaga, which meant we were only minutes away from Siesia when a back tyre on the car blew. As Ben lay on the red road jacking up the car, I watched for passing cars and trucks. Most of the main road is quite wide but the part we had to change a tyre on was a little more narrow. The changing of the tyre went fairly well, then as we pulled into Bamaga there was a rubbing noise coming from the front end of our Prado. After a visit to one of the local mechanics up here we learnt that out front bearings had gone on the car.

Seisia is truly beautiful, it is remote but still you can find what you need if you look hard enough. It is around 30km from The Tip of Cape York. Life is simple here. Compact red dirt, mango trees, coconut palms and dry grass make up the caravan park we are staying in and just beyond it the red dirt merges into white sand and then into aqua water. It looks fantastic and you could not blame anybody who did not know any better for running into the water for a refreshing swim. If it were not for all of the crocodile warning signs I may have even been tempted myself. When had only been here a couple of hours when we saw our first croc on the opposite beach. Ben is happy because the pier is basically next door to the park so he can go fishing whenever he likes but at the same time he is tired of waiting to get the car fixed.

The parts for our car need to be shipped or air freighted in and even though we ordered them days ago, they still have not arrived. We cannot wait for the Prado to be fixed so that we can explore more and look for our next work and money source. We will be staying in Seisia at least until Monday, we will go to The Tip and then head to Weipa. The tip of Australia, it is an achievement in itself and is worth the effort to get here.

There are more photos to come of the wild dogs at Coen, Bramwell Roadhouse and Seisia but internet reception is really bad here and so it is not allowing me to upload anymore at the moment.

The Daintree, The Lion’s Den & Arriving in Cooktown

At my last blog on Saturday, I left you when I told you Ben was going on a fishing trip in the Daintree. He had a great day and more importantly finally landed his barramundi. He caught 5 decent barra’s that day in the beautiful Daintree and almost pulled in a massive one but it got attacked by Giant Trevally on the way in so he ended up getting some of those as well. He got a small Mangrove Jack and got to see some crocs. It was a magical day and a once in a lifetime experience. That night it was fresh barra for dinner and mash for dinner, which we shared with our neighbours at the park Chris and Greg.

On Sunday, we spent the day exploring Mossman Gorge and did a Daintree River Cruise together. The gorge is fantastic and worth the effort if you are in the area. You can catch a bus (which we did) to the gorge from the information centre then walk the gorge tracks or you can walk the entire way. The water of the Mossman is as clear as it can be and the rounded pale boulders are most impressive. The trees of the Daintree and at Mossman seem ancient and are an incredible sight. The large fig trees make you feel tiny and mystify with their curling, thick ribbon like roots. The walk is a fairly tricky one with lots of roots crossing the track and a few narrow, rocky stairs but it is worth the walk.

If you are not up for exercise and the thought of battling the narrow tracks of the Mossman Gorge doesn’t sound like you then a cruise on the Daintree may well be up your alley. You simply sit back in a spacious, clean, open boat and let your guide tell you all of the interesting facts about the river and the fauna and flora of The Daintree. We learnt about the different tree and mangrove species and how they filter the salt from the water. We saw birdlife, some small crocodiles and were even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of two wild pythons. It was truly an amazing day!

On Monday, we left Mossman Riverside Leisure Park and headed north again. Three hours later we arrived at The Lion’s Den Hotel. The Lion’s Den is a historical pub 20 minutes South of Cooktown, which was built back in the 1870’s. It offers a great country pub feel, cold beer, decent meals and pizzas and also a camp area. We paid $15 per person ($30 total) for the night (unpowered, extra $10 if you want power). They provide showers, toilets and coin operated washing machines and dyers. The camp ground is clean and spacious and the creek that runs alongside it is apparently croc-free. Most pubs that we have camped at have offered free camping or we have paid a very small donation to stay and they also tend to provide showers and toilets in hope you will come in for a beer and a meal… so I will let you guys decide whether The Lion’s Den is good value or not. In saying that, it is historical and it is a good stop-over in a fairly expensive area of Australia.

We had a great night at The Lion’s Den, we met some locals, the bar staff were great and we chatted with a few people who had already been to The Cape and were on their way back. We happened to meet a couple, Tanya and Kev, who we had dinner with. Unfortunately, they lost their two dogs to 1080 just the day prior to meeting us and they were kind enough to give us some supplies for our dogs as they no longer needed them. We could not help but feel for these two as we knew how sad we would be if it had of happened to us. After many beers, Canadian Clubs, rums and scotch’s we stumbled down the hill into our camper and slept the rest of the night away.

Tuesday came and it was time to move on. We packed up again and off we went to Cooktown. On the way to The Den and Cooktown, you notice two things in particular… the first is that the rainforest and greenery slowly but surely disappears and the landscape turns to browns and oranges. The foliage on the trees is no longer bright and they are spread out over the dry grasses and rocky soil. There are ant hills protruding from the ground. The second thing you notice is that there are many other campers and travellers coming the opposite way on the road, most of which are covered in red dust. At the moment the site of red dust covered vehicles is exciting for us. It means we are getting closer to The Cape York Peninsula and this is something we have really been looking forward to.

Cooktown is smaller than what we expected but still has all of the necessities. We are staying at Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park and it is pretty good value at $36 for powered camping per night. It has a nice camp kitchen, pool, clean amenities and is within short walking distance of the main street and pubs. We have a really nice shady camp spot and here we will prepare as best we can to head for The Cape. Yesterday, after we set up, we had a look around and checked out the pub. We had a fish off the pier this morning and tonight we will head back to The Top Pub for a beer and a hit in their local pool competition.

Arriving in Cooktown gives you a great feeling, after just over nine months of travelling, here we are in the Far North, preparing for even further North. What a historic place and an unforgettable experience!

On The Road Again – Mission to Mossman

The last week or so has been exciting and full of travel, we have been moving onwards and upwards and have experienced some amazing things along the way. It has been nine months since we left Hampton Park and it is now time for us to see what the tropical north has to offer.

Leaving Townsville

We lived in Townsville for two months and when it came time to leave we did it reluctantly. It wasn’t because we weren’t ready or excited to see other places, trust me, we were… it was just that we had made some good friends and had enjoyed working and living in the area. We would miss the people we had been working with and the people at Coral Coast Tourist Park. We cannot thank them enough for making our stay so homey and easy.

We left Townsville on the Sunday but the Friday night before we had some going away drinks with Marijka, one of the wonderful staff members at Coral Coast. We started off drinking by the campfire and then ended up getting Uber into Townsville city. We spent the night in an Irish bar listening to a decent cover band, playing pool and drinking the night away. We played on a round pool table for a bit and once we decided that it was only something an Irishman could figure out properly we resigned back to playing on the traditional rectangle shaped table.

There was lots of games of pool, lots of drinks and we even met up with Daniel there, who lived next door to us at Coral Coast. After a visit to the kebab shop, it was well past 3am and time to jump in the taxi rank line and go home. It has been a while since we have had that many drinks in one night but it was well worth it and was a great way to say goodbye to Townsville. Hopefully one day we will be back.

We did the slow hungover pack up on Saturday and the staff at Coral Coast helped us out with booking a spot at our next destination, Mission Beach, and set us up in a dog friendly Cabin for the night so that we could pack up completely on Saturday and leave early Sunday morning.

Here are some final Townsville photos… just for the sake of our memoirs. These are of the Bohle River, where Ben was trying out his crab pots, and some of our most favourite times in Townsville.


Misson Beach

It took us around three and a half hours to get to Mission Beach on Sunday. While we were in Townsville we barely saw a drop of rain and this, they tell us, is very normal, the rain tends to split when it gets to the mountain ranges and because the city sits on an indent on the coast, rain is a rare and much needed luxury for them. Almost as soon as we were out of Townville a light smattering of rain came down and the green colour of the country side suggested that it had, in fact, seen much more rain than poor dry Townsville.

The first things you notice as you are driving in to Mission are the Cassowary signs and the thick green jungle-like bushland. Nestled on the coast is the small, hip and very cool little town of Mission Beach. The main street is within walking distance of accommodation. It offers good food, live music and a great pub. When you get to the beach it made us think we were back in Fiji. A tropical jungle with palms and coconuts lines the firm sand. This place is one of the closest things to paradise that we have experienced. It is away from airports and the hustle and bustle that many of the coastal towns now have and because of that, it still offers a quiet tropical getaway feel. We hope it never changes, because it is perfect the way it is. We spent our first day there at the pub, which was great value… $1 pool tables, $4 schooners at happy hour (every day 4pm – 6pm) and nice meals. That night we ventured over to a place called The Garage where we chilled out to some live music and had a small but very tasty meals and a couple more drinks. The atmosphere was beachy and relaxed.


Our campsite was at Cassowary Coast Regional Council Caravan Park, it was cheap enough at $21 per night (unpowered) and it was affectionately called the ‘bat cave’ as it was under a few large trees and saw no sun at all. We were camping on the edge of the jungle and the amazing beach was just a few meters from our camper’s steps.


We fished the local pier one night, only getting a few small fish. We took a drive up to Paronella Park one morning. Paronella Park is up in the hills at Mena Creek. It is a castle built in the early 1930’s by a Spanish gentlemen. The concrete work is alive with moss and creepers and it is set in a beautiful part of the forest with natural waterfalls and creeks running through it. It is $45 per person to enter, which Ben and I initially though was fairly expensive but this fee does cover unlimited access to the park for 2 years and a free night of powered camping there if you wish. The park itself is definitely worth a look, it gives you a glimpse of what it would be like living in a jungle surrounded castle and the old buildings blend well with nature. The trees that were planted by Jose in the 1930’s are tall and strong, they create a path that makes you feel so tiny.


The next morning Ben and I collected some coconuts as we walked the dogs along the beach. He then became creative… chopping them open with his hatchet. We drank fresh coconut water, ate fresh coconut (the dogs included) then Ben made a bowl out of the coconut shells and a monkey face.

We could have stayed in Mission Beach for much longer than we did but after three nights and a few visits to the pub we thought we had better move on. We had not yet seen nor heard a Cassowary. We knew that they were quite endangered and the tropical habitat that they need is getting less and less so we were not surprised to have not seen one. Then out of the blue… as we were driving out with the camper hooked up, one wandered out onto the road in front of us. We were going slow at the time and were able to get these pics.

Atherton Tablelands & Cairns

We headed for the hills again. The tablelands has been a highly recommended site for us to see and it is beautiful. It has a totally different climate to the coast, it is cooler and damper. The days are still warm and sunny but it is a couple of degrees cooler than the coast. At night it cools right down and by morning the foliage is wet with dew. The forest is lush and green and is home to our endangered tree kangaroos. A two hour drive into the hills bought us to a place called Genazzano. It is a camp ground on the Tinaroo Lake, which also has a conference centre and some cabin type accommodation. The camp ground pristine and very large, it has great grass, clean amenities and a decent camp kitchen. It is right on the lake and should, in theory, be the perfect place to relax and have a fish. When we got there we were greeted by the caretaker, it is true to say that it is the people that make a place great. In this case, unfortunately, the caretaker was hell-bent on reiterating rules and telling us what we could and could not do during our stay. Straight away, this cast a dark shadow over the place for us. While we were setting up, we were, literally the only campers on the many acres of land and so we let the dogs have a run… only to have the caretaker rush down and ask us to put them on a lead immediately.

We spent most of the next day exploring Cairns. It is a great town. They have great public swimming areas, play areas for kids and it is very lovely there. It is greener than Townsville but has more high rises and a bigger focus on tourism. We walked the board walk with the dogs, got to see some of the local birdlife, then we stopped in at a modern little bar-like eatery called Howlin’ Jays for lunch. This place has a great view of the water from the outside seating area and served up the tastiest and most enjoyable fried chicken we have ever eaten.

We were fortunate enough to get to speak with the manager of the Genazzano the next day, who was lovely and very down to earth. If he had of been our first impression of the place our view of it would have changed dramatically and we would have stayed for longer. Never the less, we spent just two nights in the tablelands before we left and headed to Mossman and Port Douglas. In saying that, the tablelands are stunning and are well worth a look if you are up that way.

Port Douglas and Mossman

Port Douglas is a place we have heard a lot about and so we were very excited to see it. Once we had checked in at Mossman Riverside Leisure Park, which is about 15 minutes from Port and only 5 minutes from one of the main attractions here, the Mossman Gorge, we jumped back in the car and headed to Port for a look. Port reminds us a little of Noosa. It is full of hip boutique and designer type shops and eateries and there are expensive properties and lots of cashed up people.

The city moderately busy for its size but very interesting and inviting at the same time. The coast line is breath taking, it has mangroves and emerald water and everything that you want to see when you are this far north. The people seemed friendly and it was not hard to see why some of them continue to return to Port year after year. It has everything you need for a relaxing holiday.

We will stay in Mossman until Monday and move north from here. Mossman is nice in that it is not as busy as Port and it is still very close to the coast and to The Daintree, which I am looking forward to exploring with Ben tomorrow. Ben is out in the Daintree today with a fishing guide hunting his barramundi. I expect that he is have the time of his life and cannot wait to hear about when he gets back. There is a very important footy match on today between the Tigers and the Cats and I will be watching this while chilling in the caravan park with the dogs.

GT’s in Townsville

Come Sunday this week we will leave Townsville, hit the road again and continue north. We are planning to get to Mission Beach or at least somewhere near it. It has been a long stay here in Townsville and I have to say the place has grown on both of us.

Ben has been enjoying working with his bricky crew up here and even though it is a commercial site and long sleeves and pants are required, the guys he has been working with have been really good. I have enjoyed my emergency nursing shifts at JCU Vet Hospital and I have been lucky enough to meet some great people there. Some of which I hope to keep in touch with as we move on.

Townsville has produced perfect weather for us and has provided us with everything we have needed. The staff at Coral Coast Tourist Park are amazing and we could not have asked for more laid back or more helpful people to have stayed with. The Wednesday night burger nights in the park have become a routine for us and we will miss sitting by your fire, eating your rissoles and getting involved in the raffles.

Yesterday, Ben took a day off work and he went fishing on one of the local fishing charters up here AFS Sports Fishing Charters. When he came home from his charter, he had a huge smile on his face and I knew immediately that he had had a great day. When he showed me the photos and told me that he had finally caught his GT (Giant Trevally) I was just as excited for him as he was for himself. The GT has been on his bucket list for years. He also got same good sized Spanish Mackeral (also a first for him), some nannygai and some grassies. The guys he went out with were great and it was an experience he will never forget. He got to see sharks, whales and lots and lots of fish. What a great day! He loved getting out there and doing the things that he used to dream about doing when we were back home. Woo Hoo!

AFS Sports Fishing Charters are run by Adam and are well worth enquiring about if you happen to be in Townsville and you are looking to go out for a fish. Look him up on FB… and check out the awesome photos and vidoes of Ben’s BIG GT!

We had a delicious meal of fresh Spanish Mackerel last night and we are eating it again tonight. There is no wonder why the Townvills locals love pulling in these awesome fish. Our freezer now has a nice stock pile of fish fillets and it is almost time to hit the bitumen again!

List of Things We Loved About Townsville:

  • Glen and Amanda’s visit
  • Night Out at A Touch of Salt with Glen and Amanda
  • Magnetic Island with Glen and Amanda
  • Ben catching his GT and Spaniards
  • The Taphouse
  • The Strand, the pier and the rock wall
  • Paleranda
  • Discovering land based fishing spots and catching live bait
  • The staff at Coral Coast Tourist Park
  • The weather – never less than 24 degrees and never more than 29 degrees (mostly 26 or 27 degrees) in the day and cool enough at night to sleep
  • Meeting people and making friends through work

Ever thought about visiting Townsville? DO IT!

Magnetic Memories with Glen and Amanda

The weekend and our four days off work has come and gone. Glen and Amanda came up to Townsville to visit us on Thursday and left yesterday. Just prior to them arriving we took our dogs, Brock and Chev, to a close by but well reviewed boarding kennel. We knew that while Glen and Amanda were here we were going to be out a lot and we preferred to know they were being taken care of, rather than sitting in our annex on their own. This also meant that Ben and I had some freedom for a few days!

We greeted Glen and Amanda at Townsville Airport. It was great to see their missed, familiar faces coming down the terminal. We then met up again at their accommodation, The Ville, which also happens to be Townsville’s one and only casino. We had lunch there and a good chat about what had gone on in the seven or so months since we had seen them. The night time, like all of the other nights they were here, were then filled with walks along The Stand and main streets of Townsville City. Townsville has numerous themed and interesting little bars and restaurants to explore. The Taphouse is one of them. Ben and I had been to the Taphouse previously and this was one place we were sure they would enjoy. It is a trendy bar in an outdoor arcade area, they specialise in craft beer but they do offer self-pour beer taps. You just get one of their cards, put credit on it and then pour whichever beer you like the sound of into your glass. They charge per ML and so you can pour as little or as much of each beer as you like. As you can imagine, Ben and Glen took hold of the self-pour novelty with open arms.


The next day we took a trip to Magnetic Island, affectionately called Maggie Island by the locals. It is a short ferry ride from Townsville’s shore to the island. When you arrive your eyes are taken by the massive boulders and rockiness that graces its points and its shore line, then the thick greenery that covers the rest of the mountains that make up most of the island. We hired a mini moke (not an actual one), which was basically a tiny, topless, door-less, manual car to drive around the island. Ben and Glen had a great time pushing the little cart to its limits, which were not very high, while Amanda and I sat back and enjoyed the ride. We visited a pub over there for brunch then went to Horseshoe Bay, which is a picturesque area of the island. It features a wide beach with, clean aqua waters and beautiful palms. We found a pub in Horseshoe Bay where we could stop and quench our thirsts. It is around 12km from one side of Maggie to the other, keeping in mind that much of the Island is inaccessible via road due to bushland and rocky mountain. There were lots of bushwalks and National Park areas to explore but these were not on our to-do list this time. After a bit more driving and seeing Picnic Bay and a few of the other places Maggie has to offer we stopped at the breakwater for a bit. We were surprised when we saw rock wallabies coming from caves in the rocks and stopping to take a look at us. We returned to Townsville and to top it off, we had ourselves an amazing dining experience at one of Townville’s most popular restaurants called A Touch of Salt. Everything there was great, the food was decadent, the drinks were cold, except for the cognac, which was rightfully served warm and the service was fantastic. What was even better was that everybody had a great time there. It was a late night, more drinks were had and some time in the Casino was spent. What a great day!

There were many, many more drinks and food and every night was a late one. I think Ben and Glen tried just about every unusual whiskey, bourbon, scotch and rum on the rocks that Townsville had to offer. Amanda and I had a few too but there was no way we were keeping up with the boys pace. We visited an Irish bar where Glen graced the open mic stage with his presence at one stage. A different night they had a great live band there that drew us in. We laughed every day and had an absolute blast while they were here.

When we said goodbye to them at the airport yesterday we could not believe that our time with them had already passed. We had definitely made the most of it though and we cannot wait to see them again. It is truly special when great friends make the effort to come and see you, especially when you are so far from home.

Although we miss our friends greatly we were glad it was not us having to get on the plane and go back to chilly Melbourne. We are enjoying our time in Townsville, despite how much work we have been doing, and plan to stay here for at least another fortnight before we move up the coast. We wanted to visit Castle Hill while they were here but this

We wanted to visit Castle Hill while Glen and Amanda were here but this did not end up happening due to a fund raiser they had here, which required road closures in that area but Ben and I did visit Castle Hill when we first arrived in Townsville. Here are the pictures we took from the look out. They give a good overview of the spread out, chilled out, country-feel city we currently reside in. I have also added a few random Townsville fishing pics! Enjoy.