Colin Thomas Turton Wood

Friday, 25th June - this is the first day of the rest of our lives. Today we leave on our big adventure. The past weeks have been busy - packing up the house and saying goodbye to friends and neighbours - lots of visitors with good wishes and gifts, farewell dinners and drinks. Our feeling are mirrored by this poem, Dorothy Auld, a neighbour and good friend of almost thirty years, wrote for us.

 
So you’re off on your big adventure
You’ve planned if for years and years
With a new caravan
All comforts at hand
And a car that can go where you choose
You’ve emptied the cupboards
And thrown out the rubbish
It’s taken you years to acquire
Packed up your treasures
To store for the future
Whenever the need may arise
We hope you enjoy every minute
Experience tells us you won’t
But adventures galore
You do have in store
Of that there can be not doubt
While travelling round this great country
You’re sure to meet many new friends
But don’t forget those
Who over the years
Shared laughter and tears
And brandies and beers
The folks of Jindabyne Cres.

 
Dorothy and Tom June 1993

 
Ewen came to see us off and to take the photo of Clem and I standing beside the car and caravan outside home - somehow you feel like a snail with your home on your back.

 
First port of call was the weighbridge - tare weight - 2-190. Well that’s OK it will be better when we shed a bit of weight - oh well guess we’ll just have to drink the wine on board. Then we called into EMAIL to say goodbye to the boys - nearly had a couple of passengers there. On the way a phone call from Tony Dowe - he is travelling back from Tamworth and will see us on the way - after calls to and fro we finally met at Lochinvar - wonder when we’ll see any of our friends again.

 
Our first stay is Tamworth - it has changed since we were here 40 years ago on our honeymoon. We were supposed to be getting out of the cold - ha! - we nearly froze - even the aircon had to go into defrost mode in the mornings. After seeing the sights we visited an old friend Fred Hillier of “Aussie Dunny” fame - he lives in an interesting home built of home made bricks - loaned us his master copy of a book he has published about the sights and interesting parts to visit - who would imagine that the first monier concrete bridge is still standing just off the road - after touring around guided by this book we went back to Fred’s house, met his wife and son and had a very pleasant dinner talking about old times and what books Fred has planned. People are very friendly in van parks and you get lots of camping and travelling tips from the - believe me at the moment we need them. Packed up our home and off now to Moree. On the way we had lunch at the bid telescope CSIRO has at Narrabri. Although the drought is bad in the country they have had a little rain and this was still along the side of the road. Booked into Mehi River Van Park - joined the Big 4 in Tamworth so we could get discount on this stay - $15.00 joining fee - you save 10% on each stay so in 2 years we will be better off. There is a complex there with hot spa baths and swimming pool. We used these for the two days - lots of people hoping to relive their aches and pains. Some of the people in the caravan park come up every year for a month to “Take the Waters”. They say it helps???

 
Paid a visit to the local cotton gin - harvest has just finished so there were lots of bales of cotton. We were interested to see how it is cleaned and baled - hadn’t seen anything like that before. Rang Dorothy, Tom is OK after his surgery - good news.

 
1st July - off to Toowoomba. Countryside certainly needs lots of rain. The caravan is towing very well, although petrol consumption is fairly high - will have to drink some more of that wine!! Lighten the load.

 
Toowoomba is another city we haven’t seen for 40 years - feels like Rip Van Winkle. Booked into Motor Village - this is the nicest park yet - but still in a big town you’d expect that. After settling in we did the compulsory food shopping and looked around the town. Much warmer her thank goodness. The couple from Dubbo are here - we met them at Moree. They are just starting off - wonder how long they will last as June is not too happy with the cramped space in the small van. They are meeting friends here and will travel with them for three months. Talked to Bill and Dawn here, they are from Ballarat and are heading off to Noosa too. He’s a retired magistrate - they are very happy with their new Golf van - it’s interesting to see so many varied types of vans and setups.

 
We are starting to settle down a bit. It’s strange you usually have to look, look, look and see all the sights quickly when you are on a limited holiday time. It’s nice to just sit in the sun and have a chat or read your book if you feel like it. We saw the sights of Toowoomba - around the Tourist Drives - walked up and down Russell St., from the old railway station to see the different styles of architecture - the beautiful old homes that are now hospitals, reception places and one - Clifford House offices for a firm of solicitors - a hotel with a Venetian style of balconies. They have even made a men’s urinal part of the historic walk - a rather imposing brick building in between the two pubs - the first to be sewered in Toowoomba - guess it was important then. Had a baked potato in the park - same sort as we had in Canterbury, England 10 years ago. There was a large Kauri tree in the park - not often you see them outside of New Zealand. Drive out to Cabarlah to the biggest Cuckoo Clock Shop - even bigger that the Black Forest in Germany - broke out diets with scrummy German torte and coffee - then onto Crows Nest Park to see the falls. It was sad to see the bush - it is so dry and not a trickle of water over the falls. Then onto a pretty railway station - Spring Bluff - like a small Kuranda (Cairns district) railway station. All the new spring plants have been put in. It will simply be beautiful when they are all out. Lovely BBQ area kept up by the local Lions Club.

 
The thoughts you get from some of the places are different. Tamworth was cold - we bought clem a tracksuit in Grace Bros., met Fred. Moree - flat with lost of cotton along the side of the road, artesian baths. Toowoomba - high up with wonderful lookouts - dry bush - a large quarry that seems to have no signs to it - guess they’re not too happy about that right beside the town - Royal Bulls Head Inn - Drayton built in 1857 - if only those walls could talk.

 
It is good to have the telephone - 018227333 - if anyone likes to call us. While we are in the van for a couple of weeks we will leave it in there - it’s easier than putting it back in the car each day.

 
5th July - off to Peregian Beach. Brian and Kylie will be waiting for us there. Found the caravan park easily with Brain’s previous directions - very tropical with palm trees. We are in site 15 in Ladyfinger Lane. We have booked in for two weeks as we hope to go camping along the beach to try out our OFF ROAD gear while still in “coming-home” distance of the caravan - wonder how we’ll go? Having trouble with the TV - don’t know if it the antennae or what - the man is coming in the morning. We are going to have dinner with Brian tonight. Put up the awning and sides today - they fitted well - a few mozzies around here.

 
Drove over to Noosa to pick up the mail. Ewen is great - they are all numbered so we can see if we have lost any - only bills, pity we can’t lose those! Seems funny the last electricity and phone bill for No. 13. Lots of “Noosas” around here - Noosa Head, Junction, Village etc. It is very busy. Glen the young fellow who lives opposite in the van park works at the Postcards Cafe - he says the busiest time is breakfast - lots of tourists all year round, not many caravan parks the land have become too expensive.

 
7th July - walked along the beach today - it goes for miles and if you are not careful you’ll walk too far and forget you have to walk back. Had a quiet afternoon and I started to write this epistle. Wonder how many pages I’ll write before we’re back. Have started to plan ahead a little way so I can let Pat know where to come for our holiday when the fellows are snow skiing - we will leave from here go to Hervey Bay 19-21 July, then Yeppoon, one week, on to Mackay another week and then Airlie Beach. Pat and I even might get over the Hamilton Island - I’ll talk to her soon.

 
We will have to think about getting up to Cape York before the wet season so we will do a lot of this coastline later in more detail. It will be interesting to look back and read this in a couple of months to see if these plans were carried out.

 
Thursday - weather not real good. We are going fishing - have some lamb in the fridge thank goodness. Well I was right - no fish the pelicans were there and they were only interested in Keyless chips.

 
Friday 9th - just had breakfast and thought of some extra things for this so here I am - Clem said I look like Hemingway on safari - I’ve got the notepad and printer on the table in the annexe - pity I haven’t got Kilimanjaro in the foreground.

 
Thursday, 15th July - time certainly flies. We have been pottering about Peregian and general area - went for a walk along the walkway at Noosa out to Alexandra Head - nearly 5 kms. Kylie was good to walk all that way. the views are really great - the seas are big at the moment - we saw three koalas in the trees - it was funny to see everyone just standing and looking at them. It is a shame that we see so few. Walked about Maroochydore and took Kylie to lunch at McDonalds - her first time.

 
Talked to the girl at the local travel agents and she has arranged Clem’s flight to Sydney and shopped around for a good deal for Pat and I. We are booked into Hamilton Island for a week - 13-20 August while the fellows are freezing down in Jindabyne.

 
Walked around the edge of the Lake Weyba National Park and then trough the buses back to the road. Some nice houses around here - styles different - we think we could live around these parts later on but then we will probably see other places just as nice.

 
Wednesday, 14th - drove out to Voreen Point to look up an old friend. He was not at home but we hope to catch up soon. Had lunch at Elanda Point - this is a very nice area - with a lake and clean surrounding - Eliza Fraser Monument here. Having lunch the birds were very friendly the little miners (Micky Miners as the locals call them) are really game they even took a crumb of bread out of Brian’s mouth.

 
Yesterday we also bought a couple of fishing rods, so all the fish from now on will get free feeds. We went down to the beach to have a practice go at casting - selecting a deserted spot so we wouldn’t catch anyone - didn’t go too badly. Wonder how I’ll go bringing a fish in - if I ever catch one. The weather is a little better now. The rain hasn’t stopped us doing anything mainly raining at night. The ground is damp and its not easy getting the washing dry. Can’t get over the fact that such a lot of people live full time in these parks. The life is great but the walk to the toilets, showers and laundry is a hassle. Thank goodness we have a toilet and shower in the van. Spoke to Gallyds the other night. Seems Joy and Bert Byron are heading this way. Hope they get in touch with us. The Trues have been back to Sydney and are now heading towards Broome - maybe we’ll meet up with them in Darwin.

 
16th July - Still at Peregian. Weather is better today. We went FISHING. I caught one very small fish and Clem caught 2 plastic bags (small ones). Started to rain so we went for a drive up to Noosa Lookout - what a great view, lots of waterways - you would really have to know the area to have a boat here - sandbanks all over. Decided to give ourselves a treat tonight. Went to see the movie Aladdin - it was really good, the voice of Robyn Williams particularly.

 
Finally caught up with Chic - our best man 40 years ago. We all went to school together. We went to his place at Borren Point for lunch - talk about “the man who cam to dinner”. We arrived about 12 noon talked and talked and talked. Clem and Chic “having a few beers”, he brews his own from the Coopers pack. We had a late lunch and the neighbours came in to meet us - 1.30am they had gone through 11 bottles of home brew, 4 bottles of win. Us girls helped a bit - this is the first time I have ever seen Clem legless. They had planned on us staying the night. Thank goodness as it was a 30 minute drive back in the dark on an unfamiliar road and guess who would have had to drive!! It was great to catch up after 15 years - our 25th Anniversary was the last time we talked. Chic’s daughter Lea called in - she owns a hairdressing shop in Noosa.

 
Monday 19th - Off to Hervey Bay today. Chick and Ruth came by to see us off. RAIN - seems like everyone had the same idea. Lots of cars and vans driving around Hervey Bay looking for a site - 27 van parks and most of them full of Victorians - don’t think there are any Queenslanders left here. We finally found the Windmill Van Park - nice and clean and set up in the rain. NOT NICE - don’t know what everyone does here - the water goes out miles at low tide and leaves dirty mud and sand. The only attraction is that the whales come here from August -guess they say - well its about time we went to Hervey Bay to see the people. Stayed three days at Hervey Bay, drove out to Point Vernon which seems to be the best part of town, Toogoom small town and Burran Heads which seems to be more go ahead. Nice surprise Joy rang - good to hear from her. Do hope Kevin Dawes is feeling better - she tells me he is not too well. Big night at the Marina. We booked in for dinner, got there a bit early - played the pokies for a while, ended up winning almost enough to pay for our dinner which was really good - nicely presented - I had Crocodile Timbale and Moreton Bay Bugs - great!

 
22nd July - Off to Bundaberg. On the way stopped off to look at an old Queenslander home “Brooklyn House” - they are restoring it - will take some doing but will be worth it.

 
Going along the road Clem looked in the rear vision mirror and noticed that one of the windows was hanging at an off angle. Sure enough on of the corner clips had broken so we taped it up and drove on to Childers, another historic town. Most of the buildings are restored or in the process. Arrived at Bundaberg - we were lucky to have prebooked as the van park had a NO VACANCY sigh out. Seems half of Australia are on the road. Bundaberg is a surprise - lovely city with big wide streets. There is a huge wall called the whaling wall - an artist has painted large whales in a blue sea on it. It dominates the city skyline.

 
Luckily, there was a Viscount place there and we got the parts for the windows. Took it down to the glass place and it was all fixed that day. Clem put it back in the van. Did all the tourist things in Bundaberg. Clem was interested to see Bert Hinkler’s home and all the information they had there - although we were amazed that the house had been brought over brick by brick from England and yet the house he was born in and lived in had been neglected and it had burnt down, not even a sign where it used to be. Visited the Botanical Gardens and Boyds Antiquitorium - old motorbikes and cars - featured this place was featured on the Getaway show recently.

 
A tropical fruits winery was in the brochures so we went to see that and thought we would try the wines. Well we went in and this loud mouthed Italian who sounded as if he had been trying too much of his own product started shouting and going off about foreigners and visitors and how he had been in this country a long time. I tried a small glass of mango wine - before he started his harangue - it was terrible then we just walked out. Wonder how much wine he does sell.

 
Drove out to Bargar Beach and Elliott Heads and Kellys Beach. Seems that all the good surf beaches end around Maroochydore - lots of land for sale and lots of new houses going up. Can’t imagine what everyone does for a living.

 
24th - Went out to the Bundaberg Rum Distillery which was very interesting. Checked out the Turtle Rookery beach and Burnett Heads - looked as it people were camping overnight in the carpark in their caravan. Walked around the park near the caravan park - there was a small zoo there and one of the peacocks had flown over the fence and was walking along the main road.

 
Sunday - Did some house cleaning which doesn’t take too long and then drove out to Moore Park Beach - not too impressed with this either. Stopped off at the growers market on the way and bought some lovely fresh tomatoes - 4 for 20c. The cane cutters were working so we stopped and talked to the men who owned the field. The machine cutting the cane cost $270,000 and the fellow who drove it earned $600 per week - 5 days only. The government won’t let then use their own bore water and so it costs them $90,000 per year for water to irrigate their field. They told us replanting is usually about 4-6 years apart. Sometimes if the field is good it will last 8-10. Rang Jan and Kevin Page sounds like their trip was great they are looking forward to the snow. Spoke to Ewen also - seems like all is OK with the family. Don’t know how we’d manage without Ewen - he is keeping us in touch with everything and sending our mail to us.

 
26th - Off to Gladstone today. On the way we stopped at the Mystery Craters. These are holes in the ground - sandstone with lumps of red ochre in it. Nobody knows what they are or how they came there. they are the only type in the word. More cane cutting on the way and fields of tomatoes and macadamia nuts. Booked into Boyne-Tannum Van Park. Boyne Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is 20k out of Gladstone. Once again the park is full - very friendly people here. Did the compulsory food shopping and walked along the river. We are situated next to the country club. Pat and Don phoned - what an idiot I am - I sent the wrong ticket to her.

 
27th - Drove to Gladstone. What a nice city even though it is a busy port the city is nice with lovely shopping malls, a marina and several lookouts, in all a very neat and clean place. Had lunch at Awoonga Dam. What a surprise - the Water Board have landscaped it with a lovely restaurant, ferns and waterfall, BBQs and little shelter huts. The gardens and lawns are well kept and the dam is used for swimming and fishing and sailing. A credit to the fellows who tend it. Dimity rang tonight. It is great to talk to friends and find out all the news.

 
Fishing again today - still no luck. I am quite convinced that the fish suicide on to all these other peoples lines - although I must admit noboby else seems to be catching anything. I was talking to some other ladies in the park - their husbands had been down to the river to put a net in to catch some bait and a 4 lb flathead got caught in the net, so they were having fish for dinner. Also they were going down to the local markets to get some coral prawns - $3.20 per kg - they got us some too. They were really nice, although the shells were very hard. Guess its from the prawns living off the coral.

 
Went over to the Country Club which is next to the Caravan Park. We had a drink and decided to put $5 in the pokies - LUCKY - we won $90.

 
Thursday 29th - Off to Yeppoon. Had trouble booking in - finally the Blue Dolphin just out of town. We had thought to stay at one of the beaches. Luckily we didn’t - there isn’t any beach - just miles of dark sand when the water goes out. Drove out along the scenic drive. Saw the singing ship - a large white metal sculpture in the shape of a sailing ship with wind pipes as masts. So as it is on a hill the wind whistles through and it sounds like the wind in the sails. This is a monument for Captain Cook. Went up to another lookout - there is a blowhole there and above it huge lava tubes in the shape of a fan. Most of the parks are out on this scenic drive, but they are a long way from anything else. We are certainly lucky in NSW with our beautiful foreshores.

 
Today we went to Great Keppel Island. Went snorkelling but not many fish or coloured coral. Had lunch and Clem had a chocolate milkshake. He was sitting down and a lorikeet perched on his shoulder. Jokingly he said have some milkshake - well the bird poked its beak in the container and then about 2 dozen others came down and clem was covered in coloured birds. Everyone was madly taking photos - they polished off all the milkshake!!

 
The sand on the islands is white and we walked around and had a look at the accommodation. We had met up with another couple from Sydney. The resort is trying to live down the GET WRECKED AT KEPPEL - and hope to attract other than the 18-30 year olds. There are a few backpackers and tents with roofs on type accommodation. We had a great day.

 
Decided as we were in the area we should see Mt. Morgan mine - the largest man made hole in the world. Drove all the way there only to be told that it was closed to visitors - there is a bus trip Monday to Friday if the fellow decides to run it. Looks like they need a good tourist agency. We did go on a ride on the local train - round trip and the commentary told us about the local area and the mine. Drove out to the Japanese owned resort. The golf course was empty and the resort itself looked empty. They are doing a lot of renovations to the pool and building a new restaurant - we wondered for who??

 
The tide was about out when we got back to town so we walked along the beach. The tide goes out about 200 to 300 metres. Called into the Keppel Sailing Club - lost $10 on the pokies, but we are still ahead though.

 
Good news - tonight Tom Auld rang and he is feeling a lot better. They are at Mermaid Beach and then Jan Deeble from Peakhurst High rang. It was good to get her news too. We are really lucky that our friends are keeping touch.

 
Off to Mackay today. More sugar can along the road - very boring drive. The army owns most of the land to the right of the road as there is a big military are at Shoalwater Bay. Arrived at our caravan park -Illawong (Far) Beach (no Dimity and Tony though). We thought the tide went out a long way at the other beaches. On this one we walked for half an hour straight out and still did not reach the water. There were sand banks about 6ft high - it looks really strange. Picked up our mail (thanks Ewen). Dimity rang again and we had a nice long chat. Walked down to the beach about 8.30pm and watched the tide come in. It comes in really fast. Drove down the harbour and out to the lookout at Slade Point. Had a picnic lunch.

 
5th August - Went out to Fairleigh Sugar Mill. Very interesting to see how they process the sugar. They only get it to raw sugar state before they shop it off in the bulk carriers at the harbour. The young people who are the tour guides are employed by the Skill Share Project - training young people in all sorts of jobs instead of just paying the dole. We paid $10 each to see over the mill - that money goes to Skill Share not the owner of the mill - great idea!!

 
Decided to go to the movies and wanted to see THE FIRM. Got showered and dressed, arrived at the moves - movie was still at the airport so we missed out. Went next door to the take-away chinese. They have a good idea - help yourself for $5.50 a container - no waiting and lots of variety to choose from. Food was great.
6th August - Spoke to Ewen about the mail and then off to Airlie Beach - once again the park is crowded - but we had booked ahead. The sites are very nice here and people, once again, very friendly. The possums come down to the amenities block every night and people feed them. There is a tame wallaby at the back of our van sight.

 
7th August - Went for a day trip to Daydream Island $16.00 each. They let you off the boat at the jetty and there is a boardwalk around to the Beach Club - lovely pool and shops - beach very hard on your feet - all dead coral. Walked over the hill to the other side of the island to Sunlovers beach and went snorkelling. It was unbelievable. The parrot fish were so colourful and the long striped garfish. We were swimming around with about 2-3 dozen fish. It is at that beach the other day snorkelling boats come in and feed the. We had a great day. Today we go on another trip this time to Whitehaven and Hamilton. Clem wants to see Hamilton before Pat and I go over. The boat calls into Hamilton and picks up the people there before going on to Whitehaven beach. This beach is all white silica sand - so lovely. The water is so clear and blue. Nobody lives on Whitsunday Island - only the daytrippers come. We saw a flying boat up the beach, from Hayman Island probably. The pilot was stretched out all in his shirt and towel and another couple sitting beside them - a plate of cheese and an esky with champagne sitting up in it. For all they didn’t seem to be enjoying it all that much and it probably cost them heaps to do the trip. The afternoon on Hamilton was good. Had some lunch and checked out the resort. Had a look at the bures where Pat and I will be staying - there were more lorikeets at the ice cream shop so Clem bought his ice cream and left.

 
Monday - we walked along the shopping centre. It is a bit like Hastings Street at Noosa in the early days. Had a nice lunch at an Italian place on the beach. Checked out the Marina found out the name of Cara’s friend’s grandfather who has a sailing boat charter service - phoned him we will see him when Clem gets back from skiing.

 
11th August - Clem left for Jindabyne today. I went shopping and had my hair permed. I miss Enzo, but it really doesn’t look all that bad. Spoke to Pat tonight - she is looking forward to coming up. Clem rang from Jindabyne. Took only 12 hours from door to door - he got on the bus her at 9.15 and phone at 9.15pm.

 
Tuesday, 7th September - Arrived in Cairns and booked into Coconut Village Van Park and for the next few days had a general look around Cairns. Put the car in for service. Great day on the Wavedancer - 30mtr luxury catamaran - out to the Low Isles snorkelling over the coral and walking along the beautiful white beach. Travelled up to Port Douglas by boat for this trip and came back by bus - gave us a good chance to see the coast both ways.

 
Enjoyed a great chinese meal at the Radisson Pier and went to the movies to see “Sleepless in Seattle”. Went up to Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge. Decided to try our camping skills at Lake Tinaroo Dam - on the Atherton Tablelands. Stopped at Crystal Cascades - saw our first “stinging trees”. These are nice little numbers with silica needles on their leaves and if you brush past them the needles stay in your flesh (NOT NICE). Driving along the road near Mareeba noticed the Army Duck Tour we had seen on Getaway, so did a wheelie and had a great ride on the duck through the rainforest and into a dam. Our guide gave us a lot of information on ferns, trees and vines. Also we saw some turtles and a lizard in the water. Onto Tinaroo Dam where we set us camp on the side of the dam on Fong On Bay - lots of school children having their annual camp there. Set up our tent for the first time and surprisingly had a good nights rest. Up with the birds we set off to see Lake Barrine and Lake Eachem and then onto the falls circuit - Malanda Falls (not very high but lots of water falling into a swimming pool). Next and my favourite Millaa Millaa Falls - something you’d see in the movies a long drop out of lovely ferns into a pool surrounded by ferns and flowers. Next Zillie Falls - twin falls very high. Elinjaa Falls were next - these were like a miniature Bridal Veil Falls (Katoomba) then on to Herberton where there was supposed to be a restored historic town (a pile of junk houses more likely) then on to Atherton - nice enough little country town. Back to camp at Tinaroo to cook dinner - early to bed. We are surprised there are not more flies and mosquitoes (not that we are complaining). Up early - the mist on the water looked great from our bed in the back of the truck. Packed tent - walked around the side of the dam - mist just rising it was lovely (water very low). Driving along the track a large logging truck cam hurtling around the corner and we thought THIS IS IT!!! Luckily there weren’t any poles or large rocks on the side of the road because that’s where we ended up. Collected our thoughts and put our hearts where they are supposed to be and drove to Mt. Hypipamee Crater - which has sheer granite walls 60 metres down to an algae covered pool - they don’t know how deep this is. Also saw the Cathedral and Curtain Fig Trees (large trees taken over by strangler figtrees). On to Mena Creek and Paronella Park - an old ruined castle built by Jose Paronella in late 1800’s - partly destroyed in 1946 by a cyclone. There was a magnificent avenue of Kauri trees planted in 1930’s. Down to Innisfail and the Josephine Falls, then back to Cairns. Had our first dinner at the Aust. Rules Club where they make you a member for $5 - you have meals for half price and then when you leave Cairns you get your $5 back (great deal). The next few days we stayed at the Van Park, packed the car with the essentials, talked to people who had just come back from the TOP and on 21st September we set off on our big adventure!!!

 
Filled up with petrol at Mt Carbine - first stop Palmer River Roadhouse. Had a beer and hot chips and looked at the museum there - people sitting under a huge mango tree and an emu strutting around. Camped at Hann River Roadhouse (very basic - but showers and toilets clean). Roadworkers had their camp there. Road so far not so bad. Rang Punsand Bay (Cape York) to book a camp site. Off on the road again to Musgrave, petrol 86cents - through to Coen (very dry and dusty town). They have entered in the Tidy Towns so the indigenous people have to do four hours work a day so they get their pay and the town (they say) is a lot cleaner now. Lunch and petrol fill at Archer River - 90cents litre.

 
Along the Telegraph Road - these roads just go on and on into the distance - you can see a narrow ribbon through the green trees. Arrived at the Wenlock surprised to see people swimming - crossed the river easily - road now getting rough with corrugations. Crossed the Dalhunty River then decided to camp at Bertie Creek. Set up tent on the side of the river and hoped we didn’t get any unwelcome creepy crawlies.

 
Up early and had a look at the Gunshot Crossing - 70 degrees straight down into a mud hole - you have to get winched out of this one, decided to take the road around instead. Two more creeks the Cockatoo (deepest creek crossing so far - with steep sandy exit). Sailor Creek was next - we feel like old hands crossing these now. Drove onto a side track to have a look at Fruit Bat Falls, this track was very narrow with deep black sand (you get on the CB and say “vehicle coming into Fruit Bat Falls” and hope if anyone is coming out they hear you and don’t come careering around the corner). There was a lovely timber walkway round these falls - back along the narrow track onto the Telegraph Road and on to Elliott or Twin Falls. Had a much refreshing swim under the falls and lunch. Road shocking to Jardine River (crossed this one on the ferry). On to Bamaga (YUK) red dusty dirty town everything covered in fine red dust - houses, trees, people. Out to Punsand Bay (black sandy road very rough). Set up camp on the beach, looking across the water we could see the top of Australia. Boat trip going to Thursday Island today so will have to leave the Top till tomorrow. The tour boat came and we had to be ferried out to it by dinghy. Trip across to the Island - took about an hour boarded the Willy Nelson bus for a tour of the Island. Very basic houses and the usual cannon on top of the hill in case the Russians invaded (these cannons must have been an obsession nearly all the islands have them - but then Sydney built Pinchgut for the same reason. Lots of Indonesian fishing boats on the shore that had been confiscated and burnt.

 
25th September - Today we drove to the Wilderness Car Park. The path to the top starts here through bush and then over some rocky hills and there you are - there is a notice and that where everyone gets their photo taken. Dipped our hands in the water - had a beer - it was a great feeling to know that we had made it. Went into Wilderness Lodge and ahead a lovely swim and lunch. Looked at Somerset where Frank Jardine (early settler) lived. Got back to our camp to find the tent had almost blown away - fixed that up, swept the black sand out of everything.

 
Sunday - packed up had to go to Seisia for petrol as Bamaga is closed on Sundays - more red dust and wind - petrol 89cents. Drove down the Northern Bypass Road, crossed the Jardine River decided it was not to deep (we’re old hands at these river crossings now) onto Southern Bypass Road back over the Wenlock to Batavia Downs and the road to Weipa (this side track was a shocking road but saved lots of klms). Arrived at Weipa just after St George had lost the footie - everyone at the hotel was celebrating. We booked a room and had dinner - $100 for a room but we had travelled a lot of k’s and were tired, and dusty.

 
Monday, drove to the camping area and set up camp, then went of a tour of the mine - very dusty but interesting to see the huge graders with their enormous tyres. No water shortage here. They have been pumping millions of gallons out of the dam each day for 20-25 years and the level hasn’t altered - the water is a rich blue. Went for a swim in the free council pool and bought prawns and barramundi from the co-op.

 
Wednesday, 29th - Packed up and headed for the east coast and Chilli Beach - back over the terrible road to Batavia Downs onto Frenchmans Road (these side roads aren’t good but they are k’s shorter) to Iron Range National Park through to the Pascoe River. This was a bit deeper that the others.

 
Heading now for Chilli Beach were we’ll camp for a couple of days. The road is bad here and one of the bridges over the creeks is down, the detour is a goat track through the scrub, more creek crossing - one has the remains of a WWII bridge across it (not used now). Here’s the turn off - shocking 6.5kms through black sand to Chillis Beach and bush camping. Beach is very windy - it is long and edged with palm trees - the wind never lets up - you have to find a spot back off the beach sheltered by trees to put the ten up. Stayed here two nights walked along the beach and had a rest. Getting a bit of rain now - haven’t had much up till now. Packed up tent and had to drive to the Rangers House for a permit - came across this truck parked across the road, two drunk aborigines on the road and a woman with children of the side. The older man picked up a rock and we thought he was going to smash the windscreen - we slowly drove around them - don’t know what brought that on, but I was pretty scared. They were going out on the GOOD ROAD to Lockhart River Aboriginal Community (all the roads that lead to these places are well graded and cared for). Heading now for Lakefield National Park. Back on a reasonable road now - some corrugations - National Park is very dry - came across this pond covered with lovely water lilies and birds - great change from termite mounds and red dusty roads surrounded by dead grass and sparse trees. Set up camp and went for a 4.5kms walk through the park - everything is so dry all the ponds are dry - no water anywhere except in parts of the river where the crocodiles are - we haven’t seen any yet. Lots of crows, kites and kookaburras (checking the different kinds in my bird book). The toilet block here has not water or lights, so I showered (very quickly) with cold water, 2 frogs and a lizard. The wallabies here are very tame they come up to you for food.

 
3rd October - we are off to Cooktown. Drove down through National Park past New and Old Laura stations then along Battle Camp road. This had just been graded luckily as it can be very rough. Arrived at Cooktown, very neat town with huge mango trees along the road (bet its a mess when the mangoes ripen and no-one picks them). Booked into a lovely motel right opposite the spot where Cook landed (decided to treat ourselves) had a swim in the pool, walked around the town had lunch at Sovereign Hotel, very nice hotel (changed its name to half sovereign after a storm had wrecked it years ago). Cooked steaks on the BBQ beside the swimming pool (luxury), phoned Christine and Ewen for some news. Off we go - through to Helensvale and the Lions Den Pub (very old pub and quite famous in these parts) listed in the Pub Book Pat and Don had given us). Next stop Bloomfield River (had to pass through an aborigine settlement - what a mess!!). A causeway has been built over the river so it was not too deep, up to the running board - before we went over it we walked along to the Bloomfield Falls - they were really lovely with lots of water. The Cape Tribulation road is open - they should have closed it - it was steep with deep ruts, we had almost made it only a few k’s to go - up ahead a car is stuck in the mud - we decided to drive on the other side - into the mud, slipping and sliding, made it! Got out to see if all was okay - A FLAT TYRE - everything covered in we mud - we had to get the tyre out from under the car and change it. When we were finished Clem said - take a photo - I got out took the photo and slipped in the mud - we can laugh about it now but then!!!!!

 
Back in Cairns - our lovely comfortable van - hot showers, queen size bed. Spent the next day cleaning - truck, clothes, gear, everything. Dow to the Post Office - letters from Jan Deeble, Leonie Ellis and Mable David from America. As usual Ewen had sent on all our other mail - what would we do without our favourite postman. It was good to read the Liones - snippets sent by Jann (even if they still spell it wrongly). having an easy time in Cairns, relaxing and sightseeing.

 
Today I am starting a jigsaw that Christine gave us. It’s the same on both sides - the royals living it up in cartoon form - the other side is turned around 90 degree. I have people calling in from the other vans to see how its going - driving me mad it is, I finally did it - now I have to destroy it to pack it up.

 
October 12 - all packed up and off to Chartres Towers but first to Undara to see the Lava Tubes. These look like big tunnels they are millions of years old and run for 163 miles - 40ft in diameter - well worth the visit. The park has old train carriages renovated for accommodation. Dow the Kennedy Highway to Charters Towers, meeting a few long road trains now. This town has preserved all its old buildings - its nice to see even Red Rooster in an old renovated shop. Went out to see the Venus Gold Battery where they used to crush the ore, they really did it hard in those days - it must have been so hot in the tin shed with all the dust. Lots of very nice schools as this is the centre for most of the outlying places to sent the children for their education. Now off to Hughenden; in the caravan park about to go for a swim and who did we meet - Bob Menzies and his wife Ann - he is a teacher from Peakhurst and Ann is Robyn McKay’s (our neighbour) sister. Drove out to Porcupine Gorge which is a miniature grand canyon - not much water in the ponds - they have a large skeleton of a Muttaburrasaurus which had been found in the area - this is dinosaur country. Decided to leave the van and go to Winton and Longreach - down a development road (another shocker). Hall of Fame was great spent most of the day there - saw the Qantas hangar. At Winton went to the Qantilda Museum (Qantas and Waltzing Matilda History). Had a bit of rain last night so the road back to Winton was terrible. All of a sudden the car turned into a ballerina and did some 360 degree turns and so we slipped and slid onto Corfield. Had a welcome beer - the fellow couldn’t work the cash register so he got on the CB and gave me instructions so we finally worked it out. A bit like Jan and I working out the Oasis at school. Back on the road and it was worse this time - a large road train stuck on the side of the road - he would have to wait he said for three hours to see if it dries up. Through mud and slipping around we made it back to Hughenden - glad to see the van - took us a couple of hours to get the mud off the car - most of it will have to dry and fall off - unless we want to take up pottery making.

 
October, 19th - Forward and ever onwards. Cloncurry another long, long, straight road and flat countryside. Cattle and horses along the road (some dead, hit by road trains or cars). Went through Richmond (nice clean and tidy town), Julia Creek (one of the largest cattle sale yards in the world - its so hot they have the sales at night), Cloncurry - not much to this town. Left the van and went down the Matilda Highway to see Banjo Patterson’s Combo Waterhole where the swagman jumped in. Had lunch at the Blue Heeler Pub, Kynuna (where they have a surf club an annual surf carnival in the dust). They actually have a lifesavers tower with a surf reel but instead of rope they have barbed wire on the reel. Then to McKinlay to the pub where they filmed the opening scenes of Crocodile Dundee the back to Cloncurry where we saw the John Flynn Memorial Museum. At the van park camped next to some fellows who move old houses - they have moved almost every house in a town near here called Duchess. Off again - stopped for the night at a Park (The Clem Walton) which was off the road 3 kms and beside a dam, lovely and quiet (a freebee). We sat beside the water with out bird book and looked at the lovely birds and then the kangaroos started to come down at sunset. The peace and quiet was lovely and the sunrise next day great. Arrived at Mt. Isa where we will stay for a week - the park her in nice - pool great - everyone seems to gather there in the afternoon and swap stories of where they have been and where they hope to go - you get information on roads, van parks etc. The weather is very hot and dry 40 degrees today - thank goodness for the aircon.

 
Looking back on our trip we have seen a lot but there’s a lot of country out there to see. We realise now that will be hard pressed to see it all - what we miss this time we’ll have to do next year. We are at Mt. Isa and Darwin, where we are headed for next is 1600 kms away but then Sydney is 1700 kms as the crow flies.

 
Today we went for an underground tour of Mt. Isa Mines. We were decked out in white overalls, steel tipped shoes, hard hat with miners light on the front of it, safety goggles, gloves, ear muffs, (fashion plates we weren’t). Only nine people at a time can do the tour - they take you in the back of a four wheel drive and down you go - over 1km below the surface - black as pitch (you have to keep your light on). We watched one of the big drill machines boring holes in the face of the rock and then this afternoon they will place explosives in the holes and blow down the ore. There were other big trucks carrying and dumping waste rock down the shafts, remote control shovel trucks clearing sites - it was really amazing and hot!! We spent about 2½ hours on the tour. The sunshine was really bright when we finally came to the top in this hug lift that carried truck and all. We were glad we decided to go. Going to Lawn Hill National Park with a young couple and their two small boys from Narrandera, Mandy and Gary Longley. We are going to risk the short cut along the Velvertoft Rd about 100kms from Mt. Isa and join up with the Burketown Rd then on a 4WD track - this will save us about 250kms. We’ve arrived - trip not too bad - road fair. It is very hot at Lawn Hill and we wonder whey we’ve come - set up camp and had a swim in the river with the water lillies - lovely blue flowers.

 
30th October - we are in the canoes going up the river and its great - high red gorges on either side - blue water lillies and pandanas palms. There is a canoe portage up a bit farther on and we push the canoes up the ramp and into another gorge - this one has some waterfalls and we can swim under them - I can’t believe I’m doing all this - its great. Back at our camp and lunch - then a walk down to the other end of the park - it was so hot we sat in the shallow rapids for a couple of hours.

 
Sunday and off to Gregory Downs Hotel - and a camping spot off the road about 13kms that we have been told about - found it - it’s a bit remote and doubt if either of us would do it without company. Didn’t put up the tent as the ground is rocky and uneven on the bank - slept in the back of the truck with an awning over it and could see the river about 20ft away (no crocs here), lots of locals out for the pig shooting in the area. Again very hot so cooled off in the river (seem to be spending a lot of time doing this). Packed up camp and off to Burke & Wills Roadhouse. There used to be a horse here called XXXX (he loved beer) but he is not longer here - the people who raised him now own the park at Weipa. However on arrival were greeted by two emus.

 
On the road again off to Kajabbi Hotel (they have yabbie races here in the season). These outback pubs are really something - this one has rooms to let $15 night - tin sheds with shared bathroom, this has a tin shower, old bath and a table with a chenille cloth on it - plenty of spider webs. Had lunch (microwave pie and beer). Into the car again heading south for Julian Dam - this a huge with plenty of water. Coming into it are signs warning you to check the water level of the river before crossing; river is wide expanse of rocks, thistles and sand, but by the look of it, it could be a raging torrent in the wet. The country here is very different as you travel through - flat roads with brown pampas grass plains that go on and on - then into the red country with green trees, hills on either side - it was good to be with someone, you can chat on the CB as you go along about the scenery - road trains coming - even jokes as you think of them. Off to Darwin tomorrow - still having a great life........

 
They say “YOU’LL NEVER NEVER KNOW, IF YOU NEVER NEVER GO” so we went.

 
2nd November - Mt Isa. Its my birthday - lots of phone calls - Mandy and Garry and the boys arrived with a cake and flowers - what a lovely surprise. Dinner and champagne and then start packing to head off in the morning. Along the Barkly Highway to the three ways - right hand turn and we are on THE TRACK to Darwin - very good wide road - getting late so we decided to park along the highway. Pulled off up a track at Attack Creek - the aborigines attacked Stuart and party here. None here now though they are all at the pub. Up early and on the road - next stop historic Daly Waters Pub. Lots of activity here with tourists - a bunch of germans on motorbikes - large truck follows them with the tents and food. Arrived at Katharine - town bigger than I thought it would be. Went out to the Gorge and decided to do a trip in the morning. Walking down to the barge we met up with Steve and Janet and children. We had seen them [previously in Cairns and Mt. Isa. The gorge here is bigger than Lawn Hill much more impressive - no canoe portage here for us. You get out of the barge and walk across the rocks to the next barge. Lots of people trundling their canoes over the rocks - wouldn’t be so bad when there is more water here. The second of the gorges is bigger and here is Jedda’s Rock used in the old movie. The weather is very hot and getting more humid -lots of travellers here mostly foreign in the BRITS vans. Decided to push on to Darwin - its not far away - booked into Lee Point Van Park. This had been recommended - not very good at all - the Resort looked as though it had been a good idea but run out of money. We have since found out it is very busy in the tourist season. The ensuite consisted of a concrete blockhouse with a hole for a window - very hot and humid and the aircon is not working. Its Friday so we’ll have to wait till Monday to get someone to have a look at it. Drove around the city looking at the sights. Had dinner at the Yacht Club and watched the sun set.

 
Saturday - saw the Pearling Exhibition, looked at the Casino, Cyclone Tracey video at Fanny Bay Gaol - Military Museum. Another hot sticky night in the caravan park. We decided to book into a motel - found a nice one opposite the Yacht Club - slept most of the morning. Went out to the Aviation Museum and watched a very interesting movie on the attacks on Darwin during the war - never realised there was so much damage and so many casualties.

 
Monday morning - off to the post office. Lots of lovely mail, my birthday cards and gifts caught up with me - what a thrill. Went to see about the aircon - the man had had an accident sky diving - he was in a wheelchair and totally incapable of having a look, so we packed up and left. We had been advised that Kakadu and Litchfield were too dry so we’ll leave those till we come up from Broome. Down THE TRACK again - this tile we have the solar cars for company. Called in to see the Adelaide River War Cemetery - lovely green lawns and flowers, sad to see so many young lives lost. Decided to stay at Larrimah Roadhouse - pulled in and had a swim. They have two ponds there complete with a resident crocodile in each one. The yardman talks to them while he is sweeping up the leaves into little piles and burning the. - this is so the snakes don’t sleep under the leaves. I won’t be straying far from the van tonight.

 
Tuesday and off again - passing more solar cars. Decided I would take a turn at driving - it wasn’t easy as when you wanted to pass one of the solar cars. The support car would veer out into the middle of the road to protect it and then to make matters worse a huge roadtrain was at the back of me wanting to pass. I gave up and Clem took over. Not much to stop and look at along the road - although it certainly isn’t bare. Lots of trees and the colours are lovely - all red and green. Down past the three ways and drove into see Devils Pebbles - not worth the trip over the rough road. Onto Tennant Creek and the Old Telegraph Station. There was a guide there who had worked on the line for years. He showed us around and told us lots of tales about the place and the line. Drove along to Devils Marbles and these were great - walked around the marked track. They have information boards explaining the marbles and the surrounding area - very hot. Don’t know how those explorers managed, of course a lot of them didn’t. Arrived at Wycliffe Wells - had a swim in the covered pool - lovely and COLD. Russian solar car has also stopped for the night. They are very interested in the caravan - they came over and had a chat. The two Russians -father and son - live in a three room flat in Moscow with their wives and the two children. This costs about $A30,000.

 
Wednesday 10th - arrived at Alice Springs. Booked into Macdonnel Ranges Caravan Park - right next to Mandy and Garry. Had a BBQ dinner and caught up with all the news. For the next few days looked around the town and arranged for the aircon man to come. The parts will have to be sent from Adelaide. The scenery around Alice is really spectacular. We drove out to West Macdonnel Ranges - Simpson’s Gap, Standly Chasm, White Gums Park. Now I know why Namatjira painted the hills purple and pink - the view from Anzac Hill in the middle of town was great. A storm was brewing and the cloud formation eerie with the sun shining through a hole in them. Cameras or videos could not do this justice - it just stays in your memory. Decided to do a trip with Mandy and Garry, out to the far west ranges - Ellery Big Hole, Serpentine Gorge, Ochre Pits, Ormiston Gorge. A tourist is lost and the place is crawling with rescue people and helicopters. Had lunch at Glen Helen Gorge - fed the camels - how ugly and smelly they are. Decided it was early enough to go to the Palm Valley. The road??? is along the bed of the Finke River - literally as they are doing some work on the track. The scenery here is magnificent - groves of cycad palms and the world’s only naturally occurring red cabbage palms over 3,000 of them all several hundred years old and they tell us that the species have been here for 10,000 years. Through creek beds, sand and rough rock but the sight of the red cliffs with colour running down them they look like a red cake with chocolate sauce dripping over them. Drove through the Hermansburg Aboriginal Mission - what a mess - it has been passed back to its traditional aboriginal owners! Getting dark as we head back to Alice - once again it was great to have the CB contact. We haven’t travelled at night very much at all because of the dangers of animals running at the headlights. Called into Hungry jacks for dinner - that was a mistake - YUK!!

 
Parts have come for the aircon and the fellow has fixed it. Unfortunately he was a bit heavy-footed on the roof. It’s raining and the roof is leaking - after much effort Clem has filled the leaks so we went up town to Panorama Guth - an art gallery with a 360 degree painting of the scenery around Alice Springs inside the roof - its great. Drove out to the Telegraph stations where the original Alice Springs are. During the next few days visited the Ross River Station - had fresh sampler and billy tea and watched the whip cracking demo. Drove to N’Dhala Gorge, Trephina Gorge, Corroboree Rock, Jessie and Emily Gaps - this east range is not as spectacular as the west but beautiful in its own way. Still the lovely reds and greens and purple hills. Visited the Ghan Railway Museum and the art gallery where they had an exhibition of works by Batterbee (he taught Namatjira) very interesting.

 
20th November - we are off for the weekend with Mandy and Garry to Kings Canyon. We have booked a very basic room there - $80 for all of us - saves putting tents up. On the way we stopped off at the Henbury meteorite craters formed by a single meteorite breaking into fragments the size of 44 gal. Drum and gouging holes in the earth 183 metres wide - 6 metres above the ground. What a sight - they have even brought the US astronauts out here to see them.

 
One section of the road is very bad here the cars and buses bogged in last week’s rain have put deep ruts in it - slowly does it with CB warnings from Garry all along the way. Onto the graded section and enjoying the view - lots of pretty wildflowers along the road. Arrived at the resort and booked into our room - 1 double bed, 3 singles and four metal lockers (the lockers each have their own keys - for the backpackers that usually share these rooms), a kitchen along the passageway, this is complete with a refrigerator, sink, stove and bench with stools - wouldn’t fancy the life of a backpacker, a swimming pool and gas BBQs. Went for a walk along the creek bed, looked up at the canyon where we will walk tomorrow. Linda and Tony (couple we have met at Mt. Isa and Alice) came over for a visit. Up early 5 am - Clem and Garry cooked bacon and eggs. Didn’t need to light the BBQ - it is so hot that the pilot light keeps the plate hot enough. Sunrise was magnificent and we started our climb. Very steep at first up a rocky track then onto a trail, which is marked with arrows. What marvellous scenery - this is Australia’s deepest gorge - the walls rise 270 metres. There is a place called Garden of Eden with a deep clear pool. The walk took 4 hours but every minute was great. Needed the flasks of frozen water we had carried - they say 1 litre per person per hour.

 
Packed up the cars and headed for home. Called into roadhouse called Jim’s Place where we found out that the road to Chambers Pillar and Rainbow Valley was impassable because of recent rains. Have had a wonderful weekend. Will spend the next few days getting car serviced and some maintenance on the van.

 
24th Nov - all packed up and said out goodbyes to Mandy and Garry and the others and headed off for Ayers Rock. Road very good - lunch at Curtain Springs - not impressed with the roadhouse - very messy. Driving along the road and suddenly you see Mt. Connor in the distance - huge flat topped mountain in the open countryside. Then THE ROCK - it is hard to describe this huge rock coming out of nowhere and dominating the whole scene. There is a road right round it - I never imagined it would be so BIG. Driving through the entrance gates to the park what do we see - a dingo with a black T-shirt in its mouth - could it be??? Booked into caravan park $27 per night - most expensive yet. Went out to see the sunset on the rock - the car park is full of people, tables set out for the champagne bus trip you can take from the resort, Harley Davidson bikes with their passengers and all nationalities, cameras on tripods. It was really great the colour changes all the time. Decided to have a treat and had dinner at the Sails in the Desert Hotel. Up early next morning 4.30am to take a sunrise flight over The Rock, The Olgas, Kings Canyon and Lake Amadeus. What a flight, the scenery from the air is magnificent - we even saw some wild camels. Afterwards we drove out to the Olgas and walked around, more flies here than we have had so far. It is an amazing thing that Mt. Connor, Ayers Rock and the Olgas are all in a straight line. Clem is not feeling too well - chest infection - so we went to the Flying Doctor Base - got some medication. Drove out to the Rock, climbed a little way but decided that discretion is the better part of valor and came down. Worse coming down than going up. I had seen a lady the day before with her leg, arm and face grazed from falling. The flight was our high point and we left it at that.

 
27th Nov - packed up and off. We had thought to spend more time her, but once you’ve seen the Rock and the Olgas there is nothing to keep you here. Had lunch at Eldunda Roadhouse - these roadhouses are really something - petrol station, caravan park, motel, everything - some better than others. Here we had freshly cooked apple turnovers in airconditioned comfort - not all of them are as good as this. Thought we might stop the night at Mala - YUK!! Too many indigenous people - drove on to Cadney Homestead - steak and a bottle of red wind for dinner. Had a chat with other travellers - you’re never lonely.

 
Late start today - had to catch up with some washing. Getting close to Coober Pedy and all along the side of the road were piles of dirt where they are mining - looks strange. Booked into underground motel and walked around the town. What a dirty and dusty and hot place. Had a look at the underground museums (Old Timers and Bid Winch). Don’t know how they could sell all the opals they have here, let along the ones they are digging up. Drove out to the Breakaways - a low range of exposed sandstone outcrops location of the movie Mad Max III. The scenery is very grand, all white and bronze hills of sandstone and the moon plain with the fossilised seashells. Dinner back at the motel and made a few phone calls to catch up with friends and then we off in the morning to Port Augusta. Before we leave we called into the underground bookshop and bought our copy of “We of the Never Never”. Along the way we detour to Woomera - this is a busier town than we expected - can’t imagine what so many US Army people are doing here. Lunch at Glendambo Roadhouse and we are able to buy a six pack of Carlton Cold - first we’ve had. Arrived at Port August had an early dinner and off to bed. We have been to this area before so no need to sightsee. We decided to veer right to the Yorke Peninsula or “Little Cornwall”. Found a park at Wallaroo which is part of the Cooper Triangle with Moonta and Kadina. This area was very rich in copper and lots of Cornish miners came out here and all around is evidence of their cultures and building styles. Mines are closed now. Have been advised to go down to Marion Bay which is at the end of the peninsular - lovely coastal scenery here - similar to Cornwall. Plenty of blue tongue lizards on the roads. This is barley country and that is all you see, a bit like the sugar cane country up north. The towns along the coast road are very neat and old fashioned - there are a couple of big rusty shipwrecks on the shore. Driving up to Adelaide we had a tail wind but then we turned the corner then it was hard going all the way down. Booked into West Beach Van Park - very green and clean. Went down to Glenelg which apparently is being revived - lots of houses being restored. There is a lock there and we watched the boats being let through. Did some walking here along the beach. Went to Aircommand and had the aircon checked out. Visited Adelaide - had my first pie floater (meat pie in green pea soup) at the caravan outside the Casino, then up to scenic lookout at Mt. Lofty to see the lights of Adelaide. What a great sight!!

 
9th Dec - Drove down to Fleurieu Peninsular south of Adelaide - went to Cape Jervis where the vehicular ferry goes to Kangaroo Island and to Victor Harbour where we were looking forward to a lobster lunch at the Whalers Inn which was disappointing. Everything had changed - the Whalers Inn was a plastic looking place instead of a lovely old timer one. Walked across the causeway to Granite Island - took the climb over the hill and then rode back on the horse tram pulled by a lovely Clydesdale horse. Driving back we found Richard Hamilton winery and Andrew Garrett winery. This is a lovely place with green grass and a lovely pond and trees. Had a look West Lakes shopping complex and Thebarton Indoor Ski Dome - thought it was a bit chatty.

 
11th Dec - Raining - drove through to Lake Fyans as we decided to take a look at the Grampians. Next day we walked our little legs off up a 45 degree hill for 2 kms. To get to the top of Mt. William. This was really worth the effort, we were so high and you could see for miles. On to Silverband Falls -these just fall straight into the ground and come out further down. Then to the Boroka Lookout - this has a fabulous view of the Fyans Valley, Lake Bellfield, Wonderland and William Range. Looked a bit like a Swiss valley. From there to the lookout called the Jaws of Death where we met a German couple taking photos for the Fosters Beer commercial for German TV. Then onto the MacKenzie Falls - 10 minutes down and 40 minutes up. There was a lot of water coming over these falls, nearly 8ks walking that day - scenery great.

 
13th Dec - Off we go to Melbourne via Chateau Remy where we bought some Blue Pyrenees wines. Arrived at Christine’s - it was wonderful to see them. The next days were busy with Xmas shopping, a visit to the hospital for a day for me. Xmas parties at Cara’s school and church, visited World 4 kids and Toys R Us. Took Cara to the botanical gardens and went rowing on the Yarra. Had a lovely family Christmas dinner with Peter’s family and then Christine’s friend Vicki arranged a lovely luncheon for us.

 
26th Dec - RAINING AGAIN - Off to Cowes - still raining and cold here. Honestly this Melbourne weather. Rained most of this time at Philip Island but we did do some sightseeing and walks - enjoyed the fireworks on New Yea’s Eve and of course it was great to spend time with Christine and Cara. Now we have to leave - it is sad parting. We don’t know how long it will be before we see them again.

 
9th March - Since we left Christine at /Cowes we have been on holidays. 1st to 7th January at Lakes Entrance - where we drove out to Metung and Kings Lake. Saw Nyerimilang (an old house with lovely gardens). Went for a boat trip to Paynesville and Lake Victoria. Then from 8th to 14th at Narooma. Weather nicer here, water still cold. Went to Central Tilba. 15th to 17th to Ulladulla where we had a lovely visit with Clem’s cousin Pat and her husband John. We hadn’t seen them for a long time and it was good to catch up. Then back to Sydney - funny to have to book into a caravan park. It was great to see everyone and have a change of pace on the boat with Pat and Don. 4th February and we are off to Forster - weather fine but windy. 12th to 28th South West Rocks - this is our favourite van park - weather great - we have made friends with young couple Joanne and Geoff and their daughter Alex. We have booked in for next year. You have to book from year to year otherwise you don’t get a spot. Raining as we leave. 1st March - no point in driving to Dorrigo. Booked into Urunga and drove up to Bellingen, what a lovely town. Then to Dorrigo - too wet and the leeches are out so no walking in the rainforest. We’ll leave it till next time. Drove the round trip from Dorrigo to Coffs and back to Urunga. Very pretty scenery here. Had a day in Coffs Harbour and saw the movie Tombstone (not bad). Left Urunga 4th March drove through to Armidale. Went to see Ebor and Woolomombi Falls - these are very spectacular and we will come back here and do some walking at a later date. Had a lovely day with Frank Widdison (Ewen’s foster son) and his family. Went to a demolition derby at the Armidale show. 6th March to Tamworth - having some trouble with the car overheating. Tamworth Toyota seems to think it is okay now. Raining today so we will wait for the weather to clear up before heading off to Warrumbungles.

 
10th March - Set off from Tamworth, heading west, came upon a huge field of sunflowers. The flowers are all the same height and facing the sun, what a fabulous sight. Coonabarabran our first stop. Nice town, clean and neat - the road is okay out to the Warrumbungles. After we set up we found out that there was no water in the park. We went back to a Dinosaur Fun Par and filled the tank in the car up with beautiful clear water. On the way we went up to the Siding Spring Observatory - largest optical observatory in Australia. This hug white dome is seen from miles away perched on the mountaintop.

 
Friday - Packed lunch and 2 ltrs of water and set off on the High Tops and Breadknife Walk. We walked and walked, the scenery was magnificent - we climbed up 1000 metres. A huge brown snake stopped us in our tracks but it slithered off into a hole. Lunched at the top in the company of two carrawongs. Then down we went again - the views were really great. It took us about 8 hours to go up and down 14.5kms - with lots of stops and hard steep climbs. We certainly slept well that night. Off to Cobar today. The countryside is very green and lush. Stopped at Warren for lunch alongside the Darling river - lovely green grass and shady trees - cotton country now similar to Narrabri and Moree. Drove around Nyngan to see the levees - discovered a flat tyre on the caravan just as we left. Arrived at Cobar and was surprised what a nice town it was. All of these country towns have wide streets and everything seems to be clean. Not too many Aboriginals here - I guess that’s the difference. The caravan park here has lovely green grass, visited the Copper Museum - the town was having a BBQ to say farewell to the curator. They had a display of things they were sending to prince Charles because he was supped to visit them and didn’t. Together with some local artwork there was a painted hard hat with bits of ore sticking to it - I’m sure it won’t be displayed among the treasures in London. Left Cobar - stopped at Emmdale Roadhouse for a drink. Looks like they are trying to make something of this - newly planted gardens with BBQ furniture under shade - an airstrip (what this is for I can’t imagine as there is no one else there). Wilcannia was our next stop - what a mess - all the shops have corrugated iron over the windows plus wire mesh - not many open for business - drunks all over the park with their usual casks of wine. We had seen the town on TV so we didn’t expect much. The entire feel of the town was horrible. We pulled into a side street beside the police station with another caravan and made lunch and then left as quickly as we could. Next stop, Broken Hill. Surprised the countryside is so green and so many trees - we expected it to be barren. The town is rather old looking - houses with corrugated walls and roofs - no new houses at all. They have kept up all the old building in the town and they have a heritage walk with information stops along the way. Finally got the new tyres fitted and enjoyed the John Williamson show at the Entertainment Centre and dinner at Pizza Hut.

 
17th March - Clem’s birthday - lots of phone calls. Went for a sightseeing tour of the city - Railway Museum, Pro Hart Gallery and other museums. Clem not well, allergy or cold or something. Dr doesn’t seem to know, so we had a couple of quiet days.

 
Sunday - big day at Silverton Ghost Town - drove out past the town and suddenly you come over the hill and there is the Mundi Mundi Plains stretching forever - it really is a sight. Packed up Monday and headed off across those Mundi Mundi Plains - with the reddish purple hills, something I now realise is that Pro Hart’s colours are right - I never thought so before - the scenery is really the same with the reddish ground, bright blue sky and stumpy trees. Just out of town saw a huge bronze eagle sitting on a stump - he was about 3 feet tall. Drove on towards Peterborough and it is so still that the dust is rising in spirals, really looks strange. Driving through vast swarms of grasshoppers, now they are squished over the radiator.

 
Horrocks Pass, the lovely huge spotted gum trees and lush green reminds us of Flinders Ranges. Drove through Port Augusta and onto Whyalla. As you come into the town there is the Whyalla - largest land-locked ship in Australia 2 kms from the water. There is a tour over the ship and also in the complex a huge shed with a display of OO model railway. This was certainly worth the stop. Booked into the caravan park and when we woke up the next morning we had a flat tyre - we’ve only just had them put on in Broken Hill. Discovered that there had been a bit of metal left inside the type and this had worn through the tube. All fixed and we are off the Port Lincoln - the scenery here is great. Drove to Lincoln Cove which reminded us of Metung near Lakes Entrance. They have the same villas and marina. Drove out to Whalers Way - a spectacular stretch of coastline with blowholes, deeps crevasses and a huge osprey nest. This is all private property so you have to buy a permit and get a key to open the gate. After driving along the coastline we stopped at Fishery Beach - a lovely stretch of white sand and blue water. Drove the car along the beach and had lunch and a swim. Later on we walked down to the jetty and two boys were catching squid - they were about 8 and 10 - they said they were catching the dinner and even showed us how to skin it, take out the backbone and how they cook it - toss it in some breadcrumbs or just try with butter and garlic - so matter of fact!! Spent a couple of days here, the weather was great.

 
March 25th - on the road again, past Coffin Bay to Cummings Monument Lookout, a bit like one of the Apostles along the Great Ocean Rd., then to Murphys haystacks - unique pink granite boulders in the middle of nowhere. Decided to stop at Streaky Bay, drove out to Back Beach, Smooth Pools more great coastline with lovely blue water. Now onto Ceduna, not much here, did some shopping and now off the Nullabor, past the windmills at Penong, through the dusty plain at Nundroo, Yalata Aboriginal settlement, at the head of the Bight then onto the Nullabor - nothing like we thought it would be - not at all barren. Stopped at all the lookouts and the scenery is great - the cliffs are so high. Decided to stay the night at the last lookout to see the sunrise on the bight - well the wind blew all night and the rain came down. Woke up at 6.30am to pitch blackness - we’ll have to try again coming back. Over the Eucla pass and then the plain drops down and you have a high ridge to your right all the way along the road. Saw a feral camel at Aiguna - gosh are they ugly! Noreseman, the end of the road - decided to go to Kalgoorlie for Easter - pleased we did this. Did a tour of the Hannan Nth Mine. Went down the mine, saw a gold ingot made, had a look at the superpit, which they intend to re-mine, rode on the rattler train, the Museum of the Goldfields was very good and free!! On now to Esperance and more lovely aqua water and big cliffs. Had coffee one morning after walking along the beach and decided that THIS IS DEFINITELY THE LIFE. Looked at the wind farms - giant wind propellers on the cliffs . Spent a day at Cape Le Grand National Park - the beach here is so white and the water a deep blue and so clear. Then another day at Lucky Beach in the national Park - no electricity or water but a great two days. The tiger snakes are abundant here but the ranger says they are very shy, thank goodness we only saw one. Walked up Frenchman’s Peak and along the rocks at Thistle Cover. The water looks like lapus lazuli it is so blue.

 
April 9th - onto Ravensthorpe. Going along the road a trailer coming the other way stopped us. it was a couple we had met at Yeppoon last year and they recognised the van. We had a chat for a while but finally the flies drove us back into the cars. We are going to leave the van here at Ravensthorpe and drive 200kms there and back to see Wave Rock. Are we mad?? No it was really great to see this huge rock just like a wave. We walked to the top and over the huge boulders behind it. I had thought it would come out of the ground by itself.

 
April 11th - have decided to say at Albany for two weeks. Again here is spectacular coastline with lovely clear aqua water. We are at Middleton Beach Caravan Park - lots to do. We went to Whaleworld - another big ship on the land here. A drive along the coast with blowholes, the Gap and natural Bridge. Drove to Denmark and swam in the lovely natural pool at Greens Pool, 2 Peoples Bay, Little Beach and Waterfall Beach. The coastline either side of Albany is really great. You never get tired of looking at the aqua water churning over the rocks. There is a lookout here with a monument to the Light Horseman of the First World War. It was brought back from Suez after being damaged in the Suez Crisis. We looked over the Princess Royal Fortress, Mt Melville Lookout. The “Amity” replica of the ship that brought out the first settlers, the old gaol, Penny Post Office and Strawberry Hill Farm (the original farmhouse). Quite a few people in the park on their way the Lions Convention in Perth.

 
25th April - Anzac Day. There is a march in Denmark and then we stopped at the Valley of the Giants - giant tingle trees - you walk into the bases of these trees. These were burnt in the 1930’s bushfires but are still growing on the outside. Parked the van at Pemberton Van Park and went to the Shamrock Restaurant and had marron for dinner - really dark red, almost black freshwater crayfish - peculiar to Western Australia - they are not as fibrous as lobster. Saw the Gloucester Tree. This is 61 metres tall and has rungs around the outside so you can climb up it - no thanks!! This part of the country has some of the biggest trees in W.A.. Huge Karris and Marris and Tingle trees. We had a tour over the sawmill and saw them being sliced up. Went for a ride on the tramway through the forests and over the old timber bridges.

 
27th April - heading off today for Margaret River. Drove down to Augusta and the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. This is where the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet. No, there is no dividing line. Augusta looks as if it would be a nice place to have a holiday. the caravan park is right near the beach. The town is small but clean. We called into a BP garage for some petrol The lady was from Maitland and got interested in the van, so we showed her inside. Shed didn’t mind that there were cars lining up for petrol. We might see her on the road soon. We thought Margaret River would be bigger than it is. We had to drive 10 kms out of town to Cowaramup to find the caravan park. Stayed for a couple of days. Tried some cheese and wines but weren’t really impressed with the wines - nice, but I think Brown Bros has spoiled us - price and flavour. Forward and ever onward this time to Busselton. The caravan park here is really nice. We walked down to the jetty and were lucky enough to find that the Endeavour was open to the public. Next day drove to Cape Naturaliste and to the famous surfing beached at Yallingup. Okay if you have a surf board as the surf breaks right on the rocks. Have decided to purchase a new VCR - one that seeks the TV channel. We are going crazy tuning the TV all the time at the different places. We are at Bunbury and prices are good here so we have bought one - its great. We drove out to Donnybrook and Collie. There are lots of fruit orchards here - country is very dry - they need rain. Moved on to Mandurah. This is a really nice place - lovely shopping mall, very pleasant park and walkway right around the foreshore. They have canals here like Sylvania Waters. We saw a lovely home for sale with its own jetty for $395,000 - pay a million for it in Sydney - might even be persuaded to live here (maybe). They have just opened up the entrance to the Dawesville Channel here. The sea now flows right into the inlet and they are making a huge subdivision with canals, shopping centres, golf courses etc. Blocks of land on the canals will be about $200,000 tops. A huge bridge has been built across this with walkways underneath the road.

 
Mothers Day - had a surprise call from Joanne and Geoff and Alex (couple we met at SW Rocks). We’ll see then next February. Chris and Cara phoned and it was a lovely day. Champagne and prawns for lunch then we walked around the boardwalk - all the families were having picnics. Today, 9th May, we go to Perth. Called into Hayman Reece agents and had the tow bar and hitches checked. They did some modifications and we bought a brake safe unit. Clem will install this. It is now compulsory to have this on a caravan weighing over 2 tons. Our stay in Perth was a quiet one. We didn’t do much sightseeing, as we had seen a lot last year. Went to Fremantle and beaches along the coast, movies (saw Guarding Tess, which was good). Clem saw the ENT specialist - had a CT scan of his sinuses. The verdict is that he had some virus which had disturbed a nerve in his throat. Should clear up in 6 months. Drove to Cervantes to see the Pinnacles - thousand of limestone pillars in a sandy desert. Quite eerie to look at with the shadows they throw. Towards Geraldton we stopped at Jurien where they have a huge marina for the lobster fishing boats. Not too impressed with Geraldton. The museum there is interesting with the video about the Batavia wreck. We seem to be meeting the same people now, all heading north. Its nice to see familiar faces when you book into the parks. Kalbarri next and the scenery here is great. The coastal lookouts and the gorges are spectacular. WA certainly has some beautiful coastlines.

 
Arrived at Monkey Mia. Its very windy, edge of the bad weather that demolished a lot of Perth I guess. Up early and down to see the dolphins. They are great - they come right up to you and you can stroke them and then the rangers come with buckets of fish and we got to feed them. At the tourist centre they had videos and a talk by the resident naturalist. We certainly enjoyed out two days here. On the way out stopped at Hamelin Pool to see the Stromatolites - spongy domes on the seashore formed by blue-green algae. They are 3,500 million years old and are still alive (something like finding a live dinosaur). The water here has a very high salt content and this keeps the predators away. The Conservation and Land Management (CALM) are building a walkway across the top of these so that tourists will not damage them.

 
Carnarvon - not too impressed with this place. The country around here is very boring. Did some food shopping, collected the mail and we are off to Coral Bay. Arrived and decided to stay a week. We are parked right across from the water and you only have to walk out a little way and there is the coral reef and the fish. The schnapper and parrot fish take the food out of your hands. There are hundreds of small fish and lovely lavender coral - everyone is snorkelling around them. It is a protected area so they are safe. Went beach fishing a couple of nights. Caught 3 fish one night - enough for dinner. Nothing the next night except a huge toad fish. Rain!! We are not used to this. Played cards, wrote some letters and left for Exmouth. Not a long trip. As we drove out of Coral Bay we noticed this large rolling cloud right along the sky - Clem says its a warm front - a most unusual sight. We took some photos - I actually took one looking into the rear vision mirror - it was eerie. Arrived at the caravan park and were told the roads were closed into the Yardie Creek Gorge. Also we are disappointed that the whale sharks have only just left the area. I was going to take my life in my hands and snorkel out to see these 12 metre gentle giants of the ocean. Drove up to North West Cape to the Naval Communications Station. Looked at the wreck of the “Mildura” - not much left as it was used for bombing practice. Next stop Karratha. I drove for a while today. Not much here. Went out to Dampier to see the North West Shelf Project, Hammersly Iron Loading facilities. The huge salt pans and mountains of salt were a strange sight. Heading off soon for Broome. We’ll stay at 80 Mile Beach on the way to break the trip. Will see Millstream and Tom Price on the way back. Getting closer to the Argyle Diamond Mine!!!

 
Monday, 6th June - on our way to 80 Mile Beach. We stopped at Port Hedland on the way - not a very attractive place. Rusty rocks everywhere - large stock piles of salt. Another company town by the look of it. South Hedland is a town nearby and it has been built as a residential and industrial town. Off along the highway - not a lot to see. This is supposed to be where the great sand desert meets the ocean, but there seems to be plenty of vegetation here. 10 kms off the road and we come to Wallal Downs. The caravan park here is busy and we meet up again with Richard and Jan. The beach is aptly names and there are really beautiful shells here. Plenty of people fishing and the sunsets are amazing. Spent a couple of days here, then off to Broome. Not a lot to see on the way. We arrived at Cable Beach Caravan Park and there was one site left. We will have to move tomorrow - hopefully someone will move out. They will not take bookings here between June and September unless you book from year to year. Lots of people from Perth come up here every year. Each day at 5pm you see circles of people having Happy Hour.

 
9th June - we move to a new site and we can stay here for a while. Clem is still not very well and his cough is worse. I am determined that we will stay here until we get to the bottom of the trouble. Went out to see the jetty - it is very high up from the water and there are large fish here. In fact if you caught one it would pull you into the water before you reeled it in. Had a look at Chinatown - no Chinese here. booked a flight up to Cape Leveque. You land on the beach and have lunch and then fly off again to see the horizontal waterfall. The tide comes in between two cliffs and causes a large fall of water. Had a BBQ at the Cable Beach surf club - met some people from Melbourne who are doing a quick trip around Australia by air. Also met some locals.

 
13th June - saw Dr. Murray and he sent Clem for an x-ray and blood test. Gave him some tablets and they seem to have a soothing effect on the cough. Hope we have found the answer. Bought a painting from a couple of artists from Adelaide who have a roving exhibition in their caravan. Walked along the beach. Went out to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and had a look around the town and the shops where they sell Argyle diamonds and Broome pearls.

 
16th June - went back to see Dr. Murray and he told us the devastating news that Clem has cancer. Simply can’t believe it. We have to cancel the Cape Leveque flight and he suggests that we make our way to Darwin for more tests. This is what we’ll do, stopping at a few places we want to see on the way.

 
Fitzroy Crossing - caravan park great but the historic Fitzroy Crossing Hotel is littered with drunk Aborigines and the ground covered with hundreds of empty beer cans - it is absolutely disgraceful. Had a nice dinner at the lodge and set off early next morning to see Geike Gorge. This was a great trip - the river has sliced through an ancient limestone barrier and the cliffs are a creamy golden colour and look like coral formations in some parts. Freshwater crocodiles blend into the rocks on either side of the gorge. On now to halls Creek. Our trip is, of necessity, a hurried one. Had a look at the original Halls Creek settlement and the China Wall - a natural limestone formation that looks exactly as is made by hand. Turkey Creek and the long awaited helicopter ride over the Bungle Bungles. This was an experience we will never forget. I was so excited that I was hanging out the window of the helicopter taking photos. The Bungles are really fabulous - we decided not to drive in as the roads are very rough and it would just take up too much time. Drove through to Wyndham, booked into the caravan park and drove out to the lookout. What a fabulous sight looking down onto the mud flats of the Cambridge Gulf. The sunset here was really beautiful. Walked along the jetty - the water is really muddy here - CROCODILES!!!

 
21st June - arrived at Kununurra. Caravan park full - but they managed to find us a site. Had a look at the town and organised to go on our scenic flight ( this was a package deal with the helicopter flight at Turkey Creek - $175 for 45 mins helicopter and 40 mins fixed wing over the Ord River, Lake Argyle, Diversion Dam and old irrigation system). One of the best value flights we have had.

 
Clem is not very well at all so we decide to leave the caravan as the caravan park and go straight to Darwin. Packed everything up and off we went - about 70 kms out of town, we decide that leaving the caravan at Kununurra was not a good idea, so we drove back to the park and unpacked and repacked everything. At this stage neither of us was thinking really clearly. By this time it was late in the afternoon and getting dark. Just before we came to Timber Creek we had to drive off the road on a very rough detour. Back on the road and as we entered Timber Creek the local police came up behind and told us we had lost a wheel off the caravan. As we had crossed into Northern Territory it was now 2 hours later than we thought - 10.30pm in fact. The couple at the roadhouse were really fabulous. Steve, the owner took Clem back in his truck to look for the wheel. Andrea his wife, cooked dinner and prepared a motel room for us. Couldn’t find the wheel so we rang the insurance company who okayed the repairs and we set off for Darwin, leaving the caravan there. Long trip to Darwin. Had lunch at Katherine and then straight on to the Darwin Hospital. Boy what an education that was. Plenty of indigenous people here. the doctors decided that Clem should stay in the hospital for tests, meanwhile I had nowhere to stay. Luckily Mandy and Garry were in Darwin and they had found the Private Hospital Motel. I got a room there, and found out that we could get Clem into the Private Hospital which was definitely preferable to the public one. However, we stayed in the public hospital and had some scans and then we saw another doctor at the private hospital who arranged for more tests. During this time he was diagnosed as having TB, pluerisy, pneumonia, but finally the results came back - lung cancer. We now have to go back to Timber Creek and get the van. It has been fitted with the new wheel. by this time we had been in Darwin for 8 days. We decided to treat ourselves to a weekend at the Crocodile Hotel in Kakadu. Will have to give Litchfield a miss. Arrived at the Hotel and Ewen and Bev had organised for a bottle of our favourite French champagne to be waiting in the room - what a great thought. We were a bit disappointed in the hotel as it looked as if it needed lots of TLC to get it up to scratch. We booked a scenic flight over Arnhem Land and the wetlands - it was a great sight. We got up early in the morning to do the Yellow Water Cruise - this was really worthwhile. The sun was just coming up and there were lots of birds, even a Jabaru (stork) and the Jacina birds that walk on the lily pads, crocodiles lazing in the morning sun. It was just so beautiful.

 
4th July - left Kakadu. Road out wasn’t too bad except for about 35kms, which was really rough. Certainly glad we didn’t have the van on. Called into Katharine, did some shopping and collected mail. Heading for Timber Creek to pick up van. This was okay so we hitched up and drove to Victoria River where we stayed overnight. Some people had just come through on the Tanami Desert Road, they were pleased that they had done it, but not impressed - rough and no scenery at all. Packed up early and headed for Mataranka Homestead. Had a look at the Never Never Homestead. This was built for the film the original one has long since gone. Clem’s let is still sore, we stopped at the Three Ways roadhouse and took a left turn towards Mt. Isa on the Barkly Highway. Stopped at the Barkly Roadhouse for petrol and a drink and Clem asked if I wanted to drive for a while. About 1 km down the road I felt the van swaying and of course did all the wrong things - foot on brake etc. Before I could do anything we were veering off the road into the scrub. Lucky it was a gradual slope and not a ditch, otherwise we would have turned over. Instead the van jack-knifed into the car. Luckily we walked away - wrong, I staggered. I just couldn’t believe something else had happened to us.

 
Clem managed to get the van and the car back on the road and we limped back to the roadhouse. Rang the insurance company who told us to leave it there. Had the flat tyre on the car fixed and off we went. Stayed overnight at the Burke & Wills Motel in Mt. Isa and headed off towards home. Christine was spending the school holidays at Noosa with Brian so we’ll stop there and tell them the bad news. Had lunch at the Blue Heeler Hotel, called into the Hall of Fame at Longreach to get some acid drops - Clem bought $24.00 worth - the lady was amazed. Through Barcaldine where we saw the Tree of Knowledge where the Labor Party was formed. Onto Blackall and the Coolabah Motel. Had a really nice home cooked meal here. the people who own it had been caravanning themselves for a couple of years so they decided to serve home cooked meals to travellers. What a good idea!! Drove through to Kingaroy and onto Noosa. The countryside was so dry and barren, really the worst we have seen all around. Booked into the Northgate Apartments in Noosa. These were really nice and we had a lovely weekend with the kids. Also talked with friends in Sydney to let them know we are on our way home. Stayed at Nambucca Heads and then home. Well not really - we won’t be able to get back into the house for a week or so. Booked into the Blakehurst Motel. This is close to the hospital where Clem will see some more doctors. In Sydney we caught up with friends, Christine and Cara, who stayed with us on their way back to Melbourne. Not good news from the doctors at St. George.

 
22nd July - we have moved back into the house and the unpacking process will now start. Have decided to see a doctor at RPAH, and Clem has decided he wants to take the granddaughters to Disneyland. After more tests and scans the doctors tell us the cancer has spread to the bones, so they can offer no effective treatment.

 
Our days are now busy with Disneyland organisation, visas, passports, etc. We leave on the 17th August, and for 6 days have a wonderful time in Disneyland. Clem is really well while we are there and we all have a ball, except when they take me on the simulated rides.

 
It will be some weeks before the caravan is repaired. It is such a mess after being brought down from N.T. by truck. I think they must have dropped it - everything in the kitchen cupboards is smashed and the TV in pieces all over the floor. Haven’t decided what to do with it yet - time will tell.

 
Have decided to spend a couple of weeks at Coolangatta at Beach House.

 
We are thinking of going up to Airlie Beach in November and hiring a boat for a couple of weeks. We had intended doing this for maybe 12 months after we had finished caravanning but it looks as if that’s out now.

 
I am glad that I decided to finish this diary because as I read it I can see the places we saw and enjoyed so much. We have our photos and memories of 14 great months on the road ...................