Category: East Coast of Oz

Gundagai & Shepparton & Home

A one night stay at Gundagai River Camping & Caravan Park was a top spot to break our journey home. Will definitely put this location down as an overnight stop on future trips.

The two timber rail & road bridges spanning the Murrumbidgee flats near the caravan park are both (thankfully) closed due to rotting timbers. They are now a tourist attraction – not sure if they’re heritage listed or not. Even the bridge still in use has some pretty unsafe looking timber in it.

Our very last stop was to stay with long time friends Gary & Lorraine in Shepparton. I went to primary school with Lorraine and spent a lot of my younger years with Gary, so they are really long time friends.

Back home on Sunday 22nd November after 160 days on the road (5 months & 2 days since we left).

Hornsby Heights (Sydney)

As we work our way south we dropped into visit our Bailey caravaning buddies Tim & Anne. It was a great 3 days spent with these guys. They showed us around their part of Sydney and made us feel extremely welcome.

One lovely location was a walk through Crosslands Reserve (photos below) followed by lunch at The Empire Marina in Bobbin Head.

The next day we took a drive to Berowra Valley National Park to check out Galston Gorge. What a tight road in this was with some bends sign-posted at 5KPH – glad Tim was driving. Lunch was at Berowra Waters Waterfront Restaurant then we crossed over Berowra Creek for the drive home. Another top day out in this beautiful part of Sydney.

Thanks Anne & Tim for sharing your home with us and playing tour guides during our stay 😁

The Entrance

Returning to another location we had stayed in 2012 it was great to pull into Dunleith Tourist Park located right on the waters edge in The entrance. If you are fortunate enough to score a water view campsite they actually tow your caravan so the tow-bar is virtually sitting on the sand. The big front windows of our Bailey Rangefinder Comet caravan made it a great spot to stay. We could only get 2 nights though, which was a bit sad.

This was a great opportunity to catch up with Peter Lazarus, a great friend of ours (going back over 30 years) who lives just up the road.

The sunsets at The Entrance are very special too…

Port Macquarie

We were looking to stay in Nambucca Heads or Crescent Head but both were fully booked out so we decided to venture back to Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park where we stayed in 2012. This is a huge caravan park and we managed to get one of the last available powered sites for just 2 nights; so many people are starting to venture out as the Covid19 restrictions begin to ease.

One of the features of this location is the rock art along the breakwall. Back in 2012 we left our own Wombats on tour painting at the end of 16th Avenue and we were ecstatic to see that it’s still there.

Iluka & Yamba

It was hard to choose between Iluka and Yamba as out next destination as we’d heard a lot from other travellers about both. We decided on Iluka as it appeared to be a bit more laid back, which it turned out to be.

As we are starting to get the sniff of home it was decided to park up at Iluka Clarence Head Caravan Park for 3 nights. This was a nice park but we felt that we’d blown it on this decision as the Riverside CP looked like it would have been a better choice – oh well, looks like a return trip is on the cards in the future.

A stay of 3 nights basically means you have 2 full days to check out a location so we made the most of it.

The first day saw us exploring the coastline to the north of Iluka which was quite spectacular.

We caught the Clarence River Ferry over to Yamba on the second day but only had about an hour to explore Yamba before catching the return ferry back to Iluka. Talk about poor planning! All I got to photograph was the Yamba Lighthouse!

Brisbane & Mudgeeraba

We’re seriously heading south now and, after dropping our caravan off at Jabrumke Bailey maintenance near Brisbane for some warranty work we headed off to catch up with our friends Louie & Cheryl in Wynnum West (Brisbane suburb). Out for dinner at Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club, looking over the harbour – nice.

Stayed overnight with Louie & Cheryl then headed down the road to catch up with more great mates, Colin & Tracey, in Mudgeeraba for a few more days as we wait for the work to be completed on our caravan by Jabrumke.

The norm at Colin & Tracey’s is to fire up the firepit each night and sit back and share our life stories & a few jokes. What a great life!

A great thank-you to our friends for opening up their homes to the Touring Wombats so we cold take a break in our long journey and just chill out for a while.
Your friendship mean lot to both of us! Muchly appreciated 😁

Cotton Tree – Maroochydore

The Cotton Tree Holiday Park in Maroochydore (maplink) has a special place in our hearts as we visited in 2012 and fell in love with the place. It’s right on the Maroochy River has fantastic sites which give you complete access to stroll across the road for a swim or just chill out on the sand.

We only had 3 nights here and basically chilled out on the beach, taking some swims and watching the kite surfers in the Maroochy River Estuary. it was a great, but short, stay.

Since we were last at Cotton Tree they have installed these huge sandbag groins to stop the beach and estuary mouth from being eroded. The Maroochy Groyne Field Renewal Project is currently underway to save the caravan park at headland.

The sunsets are still pretty spectacular as well…

Cooktown

There are 2 ways to get to Cooktown from our last location at Cape Tribulation. The 1st is 104 kms via the famous Bloomfield Track (maplink) or the 2nd is 318 kms via the inland route (maplink) which is the one we took so we didn’t end up with a destroyed caravan. The Bloomfield Track is notorious for destroying all types of vehicles let alone caravans.

Cooktown Holiday Park

We settled into the lovely Cooktown Holiday Park with plenty of room around us plus heaps of shade and soon learned that with this shade came heaps of duco destroying bird poo. They would have to have the ‘sickest birds’ we have ever come across! The plan is to return here after our trip up to Cape York but will be definitely be looking for a campsite with no overhead trees 😀.

Town Walk

A walk along the recently completed $11million (according to a local) Cooktown Waterfront Park (maplink) which was rewarding with lots of eating shelters and a fabulous water park for the kids. There was lots of info about Captain James Cook and the story of his stranding on the great barrier reef, in 1770, outside of what is now Cooktown.

Grassy Hill Lookout

Just a short drive from the town centre is Grassy Hill Lookout with its mini-me sized lighthouse. This is where Capt James Cook surveyed the reefs surrounding his stranded ship to plan a way of escaping the reefs clutches.

Point Archer

We took a 20km drive south of Cooktown to check out Point Archer as we’d heard that there is a great ‘free camp’ there (the only one near Cooktown) as well as fantastic views of the coastline. It didn’t disappoint and after a stony & dusty 15kms we found this lovely location. It also had a mini-me lighthouse too.

The Lions Den Pub

So many people had recommended we must visit the historic Lion’s Den Pub when you’re in Cooktown. Well, they were absolutely correct. Built in 1875, this very eclectic pup has so many bits and pieces; like hats, beer coasters, beer coasters, money and old miners ‘IOU’s stuck and written all over the walls.

It took us both back to the Daly Waters Pub in NT, which we visited in 2018 on our ‘half lap of Oz’ trip (click here to view that blog).

A nice lunch on the pub veranda then a stroll through the caravan park out the back – even saw another Bailey caravan there.

Cape Tribulation

We left Port Douglas for a leisurely 82km drive (maplink) up to the Daintree for a 4 night stay at Cape Tribulation Campground.

Daintree River Ferry

To get to our destination we had to cross the Daintree River on the ferry ($33 return). A no fuss crossing as you cannot get out of your car to check out the view or look for crocs. This was also our last chance to use our mobile phones as once on the other side, there is no phone reception at all.

Cape Tribulation Campground

The drive from the ferry to Cape Tribulation Campground is nothing but spectacular passing between gigantic melaleuca trees and through avenues of palms and greenery that totally encloses the road – a big green tunnel.

Arriving at our destination we checked into one of the coolest looking caravan parks (maplink) we’ve ever been in. It was so lush and green and only metres from the beach – shame you cannot swim here as it’s a beautiful beach only 1km south of the famous Cape Tribulation. A 4 metre saltwater crocodile was reportedly living on the southern end of our beach which was probably about 300 metres from other  camp ground – whoo hoo – a bit scary (hence no swimming).

As soon as we’d set-up our campsite we immediately headed off to check out the beach. A short walk through the coconut palms and you are onto a truly beautiful sweeping beach. Mangroves on one end (home of the croc) and Cape Trib on the other end. The tide was out so we got some great photos of interesting sand formations and some great shells. We also found ‘WILSON!’ plus a cheeky backpacker – see if you can spot them in our photos below 😀…

Exploring Cape Tribulation

On our second day we went for a lovely stroll out to the Cape followed by a short drive up the beginning of the famous Bloomfield Track which links the Daintree to Cooktown with 30 kms of really rugged 4wd track. We didn’t go that far but agreed that we’d have a more serious look at it later from the Cooktown end.

We then took a stroll along the Dubuji Boardwalk travelling over swampy looking mangroves with their space creature looking tree roots. It was rather devoid of bird-life which we found a bit strange; and we did not see a single Cassowary while walking along but we did arrive at a beautiful beach.

Cape Trib Snorkeling

When we were in Airlie Beach we took a snorkeling tour with Ocean Rafting (click here to view that blog) and it was soooo good we decided to do another with their Cape Trib crew – Ocean Safari and it was not disappointing at all. This company really do know how to run a great snorkel tour.

We headed out to the Great Barrier Reef from the beach at Cape Tribulation due east for 25 minutes to visit 2 fabulous snorkel locations at Mackay and Undine Reefs. It was a bit choppy but what we saw was really amazing, nemos, plate coral, sea cucumbers, clams and heaps more fish. Merrisa and I were the only people to not see a turtle (bugger) but we still had a ball.

Cooper Creek Croc Tour

We’d seen so many crocs on our half lap trip in 2018 we were a bit undecided whether to do another one or not but decided too anyway. This single man operation travels up Cooper Creek (it’s an ocean estuary about 10km north of the Daintree River).

The tour only cost $35 per head for a 1 hour trip (up and back). It was a bit underwhelming to say the least but we at least got to see one female pregnant croc on the creek bank and the eyes of another, just poking out of the water.

Cape Tribulation Sunrise

On our last day at this paradise of a location I got up nice an early to join a few other bleary eyed campers on the beach to watch the sunrise. It was fairly overcast but I still got some nice photos. See what you think…

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge is part of the Daintree National Park and definitely worth a visit. To truly experience this beautiful location you must do the 2.4km walk through the gorge (if you have a good level of mobility and fitness). There is a bus which leaves every 15minutes from the information centre to the beginning of the walk – no cars allowed and good walking shoes are a must.

Your experience begins with a boardwalk along Baral Marrjanga track which ends with views over the Mossman River; truly beautiful. There’s a great swimming hole here, which made us regret we’d left our bathers behind.

Moving along we got to Rex Creek bridge, a real swinging bridge had Merrisa holding on with both hands as it really did swing a lot. This is the beginning of the Rainforest Circuit Track which, in places, is a bit rough and ready. The walk takes you through a thick rainforest with massive strangler figs along the way which is truly beautiful.

Once we completed the walk we just wanted to go for a dip in that swimming hole – next time we will bring the bathers and towel!

Port Douglas

It was about 12 years ago that we last visited this icon of tourism in Far North Queensland. Last time we flew up and stayed in fancy accommodation; this time we’ve driven over 6,000kms and reckon our accommodation is even fancier (in our Bailey caravan).

Pandanus Caravan Park

We’ve booked in for 5 nights at Pandanus Caravan Park which is not far from the town centre (maplink). A nice park with lots of trees and spaced out sites as well.

Some car trouble

About 3 weeks ago we were travelling from Karumba to Georgetown in outback FNQ and received a large chip in the windscreen of our car. It stayed the same 1cm star for this amount of time and I was thinking “cool – I will get it fixed after we have finished our trip“. Well that did’nt happen; 5 minutes after arriving in Port Douglas the chip grew and grew and grew. The car is now booked in for a new windscreen during our stay here – something we did not want!

Around Port Douglas

After we had set up camp we had a quick look around town with a drive up to the wonderful Flagstaff Hill Lookout. Magnificent views down the coast from this location. We will definitely be doing the walking trail from here to the beach. (more photos to come)

Palm Cove

We travelled a measly 18kms from Cairns to Palm Cove (maplink) to spend a full week at the NRMA Palm Cove Caravan Park. It’s a fantastic location situated right on the beach. The park is very green, but the sites are also very “tight” and crowded (its a popular place). We had great neighbours while we were here, so that always makes the stay more enjoyable.

Only problem so far has been the wind. After four days here it’s been extremely windy (about 40-50km/hr winds) and the first three days has been wet. Apparently the Cairns Harbour was recently dredged and the spoils were dumped near Trinity Beach. The strong south-easterly winds have then been blowing towards Palm Cove making the water here very muddy. It’s sort of taken the edge off our stay at this iconic location but ‘s*#t happens’

On a more positive note the main drag (Williams Esplanade) is truly beautiful; with massive melaleuca paperbark trees along the side of the road. It almost appears that the buildings have been built around the trees and in some cases the trees actually grow through the building – pretty cool.

Kuranda Skyrail

We were really lucky as the Kuranda Skyrail had been closed due to the Covid19 pandemic and opened today! We managed to book a return trip on the gondolas as the train was unfortunately booked out. The normal thing to do is to travel one way by train and the other by Skyrail.

Skyrail is a unique rainforest experience travelling over and through Australia’s World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforests. The rainforest cableway spans 7.5km and as our gondola (or as I heard one guy say – the glass bubble thing) traversed the McAlister Range, through the Barron Gorge National Park, we sat in wonder of the forest canopy below.

We caught up with some other travel buddies, Paul & Shayne (from Canberra) and spent the day checking out the 2 hop-off stations and then lunch in the Kuranda Pub followed by a stroll through the town.

Cairns

Well, we are now back onto the east coast in the lovely city of Cairns. Staying in the Lake Placid Tourist Park located about 18kms from the CBD (maplink). Nice caravan park with great amenities and a pool.

It was also great to catch up with friends Paul & Esther (from Noosa) whom we had met on our travels in Karumba.

Lake Placid Caravan Park

We really enjoyed our stay at Lake Placid Tourist Park. Great location away from the hustle bustle of Cairn but close enough to go into town.

There is also a lovely walk along the Barron River from the CP to Lake Placid, which (supposedly) has a 4 metre saltwater croc living there. At the start of the trail there’s a sign warning about crocs but it’s covered over by a palm frond – LOL.

Cairns Botanical Gardens

We spent the afternoon taking a stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens then drinks and a blueberry muffin in their great cafe.

Barron Gorge Power Station

We took a short drive from Lake Placid Caravan Park to Barron Gorge to check out the power station (maplink). It was nothing really exciting but still worth a look. The power station was commissioned in 1963 with a maximum capacity of 66 megawatts and is still operating today. It takes it’s water via a 1.6km (3m wide) tunnel from the Kuranda weir and releases it back into the Barron River.

If you’re lucky you may even get a glimpse of the Kuranda Train, as we did, traversing some of the ravines.

Crystal Cascades walk

It’s been raining for a few days now so we decided what better way to spend a rainy day than checking out the Crystal Cascades. So we packed the rain coats and umbrella and headed off to check out this location.

This is a beautiful rain forest walk with the bubbling creek running directly below the path. It is basically a series of small waterfalls flowing into large pools surrounded by large impressive granite boulders. It was a nice afternoon spent here and we totally recommend it.

New boots for the Cruiser

The car got booked in for a full set of new tyres (BF Goodrich Ko2’s) from Bob Janes in Cairns; so now we will be able to tackle Fraser Island on our way south – YAY! Merrisa also had her hair done and we stocked up on food and beverages (aka grog).

Whitehaven Beach QLD

You cannot come to the Whitsunday’s without travelling out to their islands. Today we booked a day trip with Ocean Rafting on their Northern Exposure tour out to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island, along with snorkeling at two different locations on Hook Island.

These guys are the best! We booked the lunch as well, which was scrumptious and had a few beers to wash it down. A perfect day out on the water.

Totally recommend this tour if you’re in Airlie Beach or surrounds as it was worth every cent (cost was about $355 for 2 – bargain)!

Snorkel time

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – bucket list ticked! Totally loved it!
  • Was it value for money? – absolutely. Cost was $177 per head (with discount from our Caravan Park)
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 12/10 😁
  • How do you book a tour? – try Ocean Rafting website

Airlie Beach Bicentennial Walkway

We took a beautiful walk from Seabreeze Tourist Park into Airlie Beach. It’s called the Airlie Beach Bicentennial Walkway which travels alongside the waters edge into town. The coastal walkway was practically destroyed during ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017 but has been rebuilt since.

We had a “pit-stop” at the Sorrento Bar & Restaurant for a couple of cooling ales before continuing into town. Brilliant views over the harbour.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – a fantastic walk; made even better with pit-stop along the way 😁
  • Was it value for money? – it’s free!
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 9/10

Dingo Beach & Hideaway Bay QLD

A great day trip is out to Dingo Beach & Hideaway Bay, about 63kms from Airlie Beach (maplink).

Dingo Beach Pub

Lunch at the Dingo Beach pub was great and we also entertained by a couple of singers. Nice afternoon chillin’ to great food, beers and music. A walk after lunch to burn off that huge “dingo burger” I had!

Hideaway Bay – Montes Resort

Montes Resort was unfortunately closed but the manager actually let us have a look around and a couple of drinks looking over the beautiful views from their deck. We’ll return here in the future after all of the Covid crap has passed us.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – nice day trip to both locations
  • Was it value for money? – no cost – just fuel & meals
  • Would we return? – more than likely
  • Overall Score – 7/10

Airlie Beach QLD

Leaving Yeppoon we travelled to Sarina for an overnight stop then onto Seabreeze Tourist Park in Cannonvale (Airlie Beach) (maplink) for a week stay. It rained from Yeppoon to Airlie but cleared up on the 2nd day there (had us a bit worried).

The caravan park in Sarina was one of the neatest parks we have ever been in. If you are ever looking for a great CP then you cannot go past Sarina Palms Caravan Village – Dennis, who runs the park, went out of his way to make our stay a nice one. Sorry – no photos as it was raining the whole time!

Seabreeze Tourist Park has heaps of Blue Tiger butterflies flying about with lots of different bird types – in particular these weird birds called Curlews (check out this YouTube video example), they make the scariest calls during the night which sounds like a child crying.

Shute Harbour

Cyclone Debbie totally destroyed the Shute Harbour facilities in 2017 with gusts over 250 km/hr. The reconstruction of the Marina is underway. It’s a massive project and you could see that there is still a long way to go.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – A great park to stay in. Totally recommend it
    • Cost per night – $48.00
    • Facilities – Interesting set-up and always tidy and clean
    • CP Location – Great location. Not in Airlie itself but still a good spot
    • Our rating/score 9/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes. Pretty busy but it was expected
    • Activities & places of interest – So much to do here. Need to return to do more check out TripAdvisor
    • Would we return? – Definitely
    • Overall Score – 9/10
  • Summary – We loved our stay here and will be back, that’s for sure

Yeppoon QLD

We tried real hard to get into the Yeppoon Beachside CP, right on the beach in Yeppoon, but it was totally booked out so we settled for the NRMA Capricorn Yeppoon Holiday Park which is about 13 kms out of town, in the town of Mulambin, but it was a good 2nd choice (maplink).

Took a stroll out to the beach (which has massive tidal drop) and caught site of some “Blokarts” (AKA Sand Yachts) flying down the beach at about 50km/hr – wow what a site! Came back to see our travelling buddies washing car and van.

Big tides!

The tidal changes in these parts are massive and it’s best shown in these photos. Check out the local creek (Ross Creek) which has a drop of about 4.6 metres.

The Wreck Lookout

The Wreck Lookout has great views over Yeppoon’s Cooee Bay. The lookout depicts a ship’s deck, in memory of the wreck of the 62-tonne trading schooner, Selina, which drifted crewless for 2600 nautical miles and was washed up on Wreck Point in October 1848, after disappearing in 1847 with a load of cedar logs, bound for Sydney. The headland was subsequently named Wreck Point.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – Very nice park with great sites
    • Cost per night – $31.25
    • Facilities – Great facilities, very clean &modern
    • CP Location – 11kms out of Yeppoon
    • Our rating/score 8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yeppoon itself was just another town; nothing special
    • Activities & places of interest – Sand yachts on the beach was great.
    • Would we return? – Maybe, but we’d try to get into the beach CP in town next time
    • Overall Score – 7/10
  • Summary – Not a bad stay. Would recommend for a first time visit

Bargara QLD

Checked into Bargara Beach Caravan Park for 4 nights, on the coast 15km east of Bundaberg (maplink).

After our set-up I headed over to check out the beach (right next to CP) and had a swim – the water was freezing! I’d already had daily swims as far south as Burleigh Heads, Byron Bay and Woolgoolga (730km away) and the water was FAR colder here; I just could not believe it. It was a “tight fit” in the caravan but we still enjoyed our stay. We did a great walk into town and had our lunch in the park over looking the beach. Noice!

Using Bargara as a base we ventured around the area, taking in some of the attractions on offer. Went into Bundaberg for a bit of an explore but, thanks to Covid19, the famous Bundaberg Distillery was closed to the public.

We discovered Elliot Heads which was a lovely little town to the south of Bargara. We took our lunch and had it in the park right on the beach and then took a stroll out to Dr Mays Island bird sanctuary. Elliot Heads is a beautiful spot to visit and there is a really great looking caravan park there which we’ll look at staying next time.

Another outing took us to Tinaberries Strawberry Farm where we tried their super delicious icecream and naturally purchased a couple of punnets of there wonderful strawberries. On the way back we checked out The Hummock Lookout which has superb views over Bundaberg and the coast.

Our last little trip took us north to Burnett Heads for a look around. It was nothing notable except when I walked over to check out the (all rock) beach I discovered an Osprey in a tree attempting to eat a fish. There was no way he was going to loose that fish as he was buffeted around by very strong winds.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – Not a bad park. Heaps of sites but we were pretty “packed” in with not much room
    • Cost per night – $42.00
    • Facilities – Pretty good, neat and clean but a bit dated
    • CP Location – top location right on the beach and a 10 minute walk into town
    • Our rating/score 7/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes
    • Activities & places of interest – we had a good look around the nearby towns and took a day trip into Bundaberg but attractions were closed due to Covid regulations
    • Would we return? – probably/maybe
    • Overall Score – 8/10
  • Summary – would probably return but will look for another location nearby (e.g. Elliot Heads or Hervey Bay), just to be different

Rainbow Beach QLD

We arrived at the Rainbow Beach Holiday Park just in time to check in and set-up before the rain arrived; and then it rained for the next 3 days (torrential at times). This made our stay just a little bit dreary.

The town of Rainbow Beach (maplink) is a nice little town and is one of the several access points (via Inskip Point) to Fraser Island. We did intend to make the trip over to Fraser but the horrible wet weather made up our minds for us. Maybe we can do it on our return trip.

We took a few day trips to some interesting places…

Carlo Sand Blow

The Carlo Sand Blow is a huge 15 hectare sand dune right next to town (maplink) and you should take the time to explore it. Part of the Great Sandy National Park it is believed to be created by a lightning strike a very long time ago. It was named by Captain James Cook after a member of the ships crew.

Tin Can Bay

We came across this nice little village on the water at Tin Can Bay Yacht Club for lunch (maplink). It was great to sit in the sunshine for a couple of hours with a couple of beers, tasty egg & bacon rolls and listening to some music while the local pelicans kept on trying to sneak into the café for a nibble or two – very funny.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – Pretty run down and dated. Looks like it needs a fair bit of work to meet the fee charged per night
    • Cost per night – $41.00
    • Facilities – very run down, but clean 4/10
    • CP Location – 3kms out of town but next to the water
    • Our rating/score 6/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? not too shabby
    • Activities & places of interest – not much to do, but the weather did affect us a fair bit
    • Would we return? – Probably not. Tin Can Bay may be a better choice to stay next time
  • Overall Score – 5/10
  • Summary – The caravan park is 3kms out of town with nothing much to do around it so a drive to town each time is required for supplies and activities. The biggest positive is the amount of room each site has is great, compared to the park in town which is pretty cramped.

O’Reilley’s – QLD hinterland

Moving north from Mudgeeraba we caught up some more friends, Louis & Cheryl in Wynnum West (suburb of Brisbane) for a couple of days. We met these guys on our Cambodia & Laos trip in 2016. It was great to see them again.

They took us up to Tamborine Mountain and the famous O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat for a day trip.

Tamborine Mountain was a great little village with the usual tourist shops to browse through and a great coffee stop too.

O’Reilly’s was an interesting and challenging drive with heaps of single lane sections of roads and 10km/hr switch-back bends (maplink). The resort is located in the Lamington National Park.

The first thing you encounter at O’Reilly’s is the Stinson replica plane, which was used in the Australian television movie “The Riddle of the Stinson” (1987) where Jack Thompson played Bernard O’Reilly. The film tells the true story of the Stinson plane crash into the thickly forested valley in the McPherson Range on February 19th 1937, as well as the rescue of its survivors by experienced bushman Bernard O’Reilly and other locals.

The bird-life at O’Reilly’s is incredible with so many different types of parrots creating the best photo opportunities anyone could wish for – check out below.

After lunch we took a stroll through the Booyong Forest Walk . This is truly a great place to visit. We actually had our Outback Imaging (the company I used to work for) EzyScan team meeting getaway at O’Reilly’s in 2016 – great memories.

Many thanks to Louis & Cheryl for a great day out and also welcoming us into their home for a couple of nights stay.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – After a bit of a drive we were really glad we came.
  • Was it value for money? – absolutely – only cost was our fuel & meals
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 10/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try TripAdvisor

Mudgeeraba – staying with mates

We caught up with great friends Colin & Tracey in Mudgeeraba for a few days, staying in their beautiful home in the hinterland behind Burleigh Heads.

4 days of rest and relaxation with views over the coast and mountains topped off with drinks around the firepit each night – sweeeet!

They have some chooks roaming around the property, some beautiful wallabies dropping by and even a plover who laid her eggs on their lawn.

Snapper Rocks Surf

I first visited Coolangatta in 1974, staying in the (then famous) 77 Sunset Strip Guesthouse and surfed the legendary “Green Mount” for hours – best waves ever!. Some 46 years later we ventured over the border from Kingscliff to check out the surf at Snapper Rocks and found the old guesthouse is still there, but we did notice that it’s about to be torn down for a new development, which is a bit sad.

Back to Snapper Rocks – in 2007 a surf “superbank” was developed, using sand pumped out of the Tweed River estuary. This has created a surf break of about 2kms long with multiple take off points. The main break begins at the rocks on the southern end – more in Wikipedia

The surf today at Snapper Rocks was great and you can check out the photos below. We then chilled for a while in the Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club sinking a few quiet beers with our friends Greg & Denyse while the sun set over the Surfers Paradise skyline.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – lovely place for surfers (and old surfers too)
  • Was it value for money? – no cost – except for a couple of beers in the pub
  • Would we return? – definitely
  • Overall Score – 9/10

Fingal Head (Kingscliff)

We caught up with Neil’s old school mate Greg and his wife Denyse, who live in Kingscliff and they took us out for the day. We began at Fingal Head with it’s tiny lighthouse and views over the ocean to Cook Island (maplink).

The waves at Fingal Head were pretty spectacular with a massive backwash colliding with the waves coming into the shore. I tried to capture some on my camera but missed the best ones.

We had lunch at the Chinderah Tavern with views over the Tweed River.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – nice walk around the ‘mini-me’ lighthouse and headland.
  • Was it value for money? – no cost
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 8/10

Kingscliff

Arrived in Kingscliff today to settle into the Kingscliff Beach Caravan Park for 4 days (maplink). Wow, what a great spot! Our site is looking straight at the beach which is only a few steps away. One great advantage with our Bailey Caravan is it’s large front windows give us the best views and this is one of them.

The sunset on our first night was pretty awesome with massive black clouds overhead (but no rain) and the sun going down behind them.

There is some great surf here and I got some nice shots of some young guys ripping a few waves.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – 9/10
    • Cost per night – $48.75
    • Facilities – Absolutely beautiful
    • CP Location – right in town – shops & beach on opposite sides
    • Our rating/score 9/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest – Lots to do herehave a look at TripAdvisor
    • Would we return? – Definitely
    • Overall Score – 10/10
  • Summing up – This is a fantastic caravan park and location providing access to lots of activities etc. The park itself would rate as one of the best we have stayed in. There is a lot of concrete so may not be suitable to all, but you have direct access to the beach and heaps of restaurants etc opposite.

Laird visits us in Byron Bay

Our great mate, Laird, rode his Harley down from Main Beach for the weekend to spend some time with us. We shared a beautiful dinner at The Cyprus Tree Greek restaurant. What a great feed and very friendly staff who welcomed us. We highly recommend this restaurant if you’re in Byron.

Minyon Falls (Byron Bay)

A day trip into the mountains with friends Tim & Anne saw our first stop at Minyon Falls. Weather was a bit bleak and the hills were very misty but we headed out to take in the views of the water falls.

A decision to take a track to gain a better view ended up with us all getting drowned by a sudden downpour, but the views were worth it.

After drying off we headed to Mullumbimby to have lunch at the Lu Lu’s Café. Great food and totally recommend a visit if you’re in town.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – great place to visit but next time we will need to take the 1km walk to the base of the falls to gain a fuller appreciation of them.
  • Was it value for money? – no cost
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 7/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try TripAdvisor

Cape Byron Lighthouse

You just cannot come to the lovely Byron without taking a trip to the Cape Byron Lighthouse (maplink).

Built at the turn of the 19th century to protect ships passing along the coast, Cape Byron Lighthouse stands resolute on the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. Operated by resident keepers until 1989, its now an automated light is clearly visible from Byron Bay township.

Migrating whales could be seen from the viewing platform plus a pod of dolphins were swimming right below us as we checked out the views.

After leaving the lighthouse we ventured along the coast checking out some of the beaches, ending at Belongil Beach. Along the way we encountered the Byron Solar Train (the 1st of it’s kind in the world) as it crossed our path. Merrisa took a very funny video (see below) where she lets out a tiny scream as the train toots us.

We are staying at the Glen Villa Resort, right up the back with lots of bushland and critters, including some cute and really cheeky kookaburras.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – you must do this when in Byron
  • Was it value for money? – yes – parking fees apply
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 10/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try TripAdvisor

Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a “must stop” location on any trip up the east coast of Australia. Despite the Covid19 pandemic the place was absolutely buzzing and not very much in the way of social distancing; except for restaurants, cafes and shops how were really strict on numbers entering their premises.

We stayed in Glenvilla Resort which is a nice park (maplink) with plenty of room around your caravan sites; unlike the other parks where everyone is cramped on top of each other.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – a bit out of town but we enjoyed the stay
    • Cost per night – $42.71
    • Facilities – pretty old and not the best, but at least they were clean
    • CP Location – a 10 minute walk to town or a 15 minute walk to the beach
    • Our rating/score 7/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? very trending and VERY crowded considering the Corona Virus was supposed to limit peoples movements
    • Activities & places of interest –plenty to do here. We loved our early morning walks on the beach and my daily swim was great.
    • Would we return? – probably not – been there & done that (too busy and crowded)
    • Overall Score – 7/10
  • Summary – at first we thought it was a crappy park but soon changed our minds after settling in and seeing how cramped other caravan parks were.

Woolgoolga

After leaving South West Rocks we decided to have an overnight stopover in the lovely town of Woolgoolga (maplink) or as it is locally known as “Woopie“.

We love Woopie, having visited whenever we call in to see our mates Dave & Julie, who live 10 minutes down the road in Sandy Beach. This is the first time we’ve camped here though, at Woolgoolga Beachside Caravan Park. Our site backed right onto the beach, which was fantastic.

Lunch at the wonderful Blue Bottles Brasserie Café with Dave & Julie. Just had to order their specialty Corn Fritters – yummy! If you are ever in Woolgoolga you MUST pay this Café a visit and try their delicious dishes – menu is available on their website.

Then we shared sunset drinks with Neil’s mate from the Aquarena gym, Bryn and his wife Barb. Not bad for a one night stop.

We will definitely come back to Woopie and stay longer next time.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – great park right on the beach – totally recommend it
    • Cost per night – $42.17
    • Facilities – very clean and tidy
    • CP Location – right in town, next to shops, restaurants and beach
    • Our rating/score 8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes – lovely place. We have visited before but never camped here
    • Activities & places of interest –didn’t really look as it was just an overnighter
    • Would we return? – Definitely
    • Overall Score – 8/10
  • Summary – We love Woopie to begin with but this was the first time we had stayed in the caravan park. Perfect location, right on the beach, but it was really cramped with not much room between sites and really hard to park our van. But we’d still come back.

Smoky Cape Lighthouse

Today we took a short drive from South West Rocks to Smoky Cape Lighthouse (this is a great website!) which is in the Hat Head National Park (maplink).

Fantastic views over the coastline and we even got to spot some whales moving north, even though they were a fair way offshore. We also spotted a beautiful diamond python slithering through the scrub right below the viewing platform at the lighthouse.

Accommodation is available at the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, in the old lighthouse keepers quarters, which is pretty cool.

One of our friends, Keri, told us that their uncle, Mr Harry Handicott, retired from active service in 1985 and was the last lighthouse keeper to manage the light. We found a little bit of history about him plus a photo in the museum and the poem below…

The man stood at the pearly gates looking all tired and old.
He meekly asked the man of fate for admission to the fold.
‘What have you done,’ Saint Peter asked, ‘to gain admission here?’ ‘I was in the Lighthouse Service and got leave once a year.’
The gate swung open widely as Saint Peter tolled the bell.
‘Come in,’ he said, ‘and take a harp. You’ve had enough of hell.’

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – Lovely location with a steep walk to the lighthouse
  • Was it value for money? – no cost
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 8/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try TripAdvisor

Trial Bay Gaol

Today started with a group breakfast at Trial Bay Kiosk then a walk up to the German Cemetery.

Trial Bay Gaol is full of history. The gaol opened in 1886, after 13 years of construction. It must have been a strange feeling building a prison in such a beautiful setting. The prison labourers were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. Unfortunately the scheme failed, however the remains of the breakwater can still be seen from the guard tower lookout.

During World War I the gaol became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers. We walked to a cemetery which was built for those who died during the internment.

You can find out more about Trial Bay Gaol and internment camp on Wikipedia.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – a beautiful location and totally worth a visit
  • Was it value for money? – yes; take a tour if you have not done it before. Adult $11. Concession $8. Family $30 (2 adults and 2 children)
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 9/10
  • How do you book a tour? – try TripAdvisor

South West Rocks

Moving northwards from North Narrabeen we headed 454kms to South West Rocks to catch up with some Bailey caravan friends. We booked into Ingenia Holidays Caravan Park for 7 nights (maplink).

On our 2nd night we got out the fire-pits for happy hour down by the creek. It’s a lovely location and the sunset viewed up the creek was glorious.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – Well set-out with plenty of room around our site
    • Cost per night – $35.43 (Bailey group booking deal)
    • Facilities – a bit dated but very clean – 7/10
    • CP Location – walk into town for pubs, restaurants and beach – 8/10
    • Our rating/score 7/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? yes – a small town with lots to offer
    • Activities & places of interest –Trial Bay Gaol and Smoky Cape
    • Would we return? – Definitely
    • Overall Score – 8/10
  • Summary – We were a bit uncertain about this caravan park but we loved our stay (in the end). Our friends were camped on the “creek frontage sites” and we were 2 rows back. They froze as there was no sun during the daytime which we had (LOL).

North Narrabeen headland walk

Over the road from our caravan park is the North Narrabeen headland and the walk up it provides some stunning views of the coastline as well back toward the Narrabeen Lagoon and our caravan park.

I played around with some settings on my camera to see what effects I could get from the wave action – I’d say they’re not bad (see below).

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – nice walk of about 30 minutes
  • Was it value for money? – it’s free
  • Would we return? – maybe
  • Overall Score – 8/10
  • How do you book a tour? – check TripAdvisor

Ku-Ring-Gai-Chase National Park

We needed to decide on a destination for our day trip today. Sydney city or Ku-Ring-Gai-Chase National Park. Great decision choosing the national park as it is not only a great destination but the “getting there” part is awesome.

We headed off to a part of the park called West Head and drove around some of the most amazing water views you could ever see (maplink). In some places there are soooo many yachts that it looks like a forest of masts. A large amount of money is floating there and makes you wonder how often they are “taken out” for a sail.

We then moved onto a lovely little cove by the name of Cottage Point for lunch at the Cottage Point kiosk. So quiet and lovely (maplink).

Our home of Melbourne may be the sporting capital of Australia but Sydney truly wins when it comes to their waterways. Nothing beats the views and ruggedness of this part of the world – one word – stunning!

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – you must visit the national park when in Sydney
  • Was it value for money? – although it cost us nothing the value is outstanding
  • Would we return? – definitely
  • Overall Score – 10/10
  • How do you book a tour? – check TripAdvisor

Avalon Beach

Today we went exploring along the coast to the north of where we were staying in North Narrabeen. Some of the vistas of the coastline are truly fantastic. Got a glimpse of the Warriewood Blow Hole in action from atop the cliffs

We ended up at Avalon Beach for lunch, watching the waves and the brave souls taking a swim in the Avalon Rock Pool.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – loved the place. Needed to stay longer to appreciate it. Beautiful park to have lunch in.
  • Was it value for money? – only cost is expensive short term parking, but found out that you can park over the road in supermarket for free.
  • Would we return? – yes
  • Overall Score – 7/10

Bobbin Head

We went to visit friends Tim & Anne in Hornsby Heights today and took their suggestion of taking the route through Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Wow, what a great idea, this place is truly beautiful.

We stopped off at Bobbin Head to check it out (maplink) and took stroll through the mangroves. Lovely reflections in the water.

We then went on to enjoy a lovely afternoon with Tim & Anne, who are Bailey friends. We’ll be catching up with them in South West Rocks next week.

Summing up…

  • What did we think? – xx
  • Was it value for money? – xx
  • Would we return? – xx
  • Overall Score – xx
  • How do you book a tour? – try TripAdvisor

North Narrabeen

Arrived at the NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park in North Narrabeen late in the day after a very wet 400km drive (maplink) from Gundagai. Got set-up without getting wet, then kicked back with Merrisa, Wally & Wendy and a frothy for the last rays of daylight, taking in the view from our caravan window – very noice.

Narrabeen Lagoon Trail Walk

The Narrabeen Lagoon is right outside of our caravan and it’s inspiring to see the number of people walking the trail alongside the water. So we decided to join them as well, but only walked a fraction of the 8.6kms. We then strolled over to the North Narrabeen Rockpool for a gander. Water looked inviting but a bit fresh for us today. A bit of surf was also happening too.

Summing up…

  • Caravan Park – a great place to stay with spacious sites and great views of the water (from our site)
    • Cost per night – $55 (school holidays)
    • Facilities – Neat and tidy 8/10
    • CP Location – next to the beach and close to the national parks. You can catch public transport into Sydney CBD if desired
    • Our rating/score 8/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit? Yes
    • Activities & places of interest –plenty to do here with national parks everywhere and the beach is over the road
    • Would we return? – Definitely
    • Overall Score – 10/10
  • Summary – We love this location as it is a great park and close to lots of places to visit etc. I know we should try other locations but why would we need to move when this gem is here.