Category: Catching up with friends

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 😁

O’Reilly’s in the Gold Coast 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.

Byron Bay NSW

About Byron Bay

Byron Bay is an intensely beautiful town which, because it has become a popular watering hole for backpackers and holidaymakers on the way up the New South Wales coast, has become deeply divided. Historically “Byron”, as it is often called, became associated with the alternative lifestyle movement of the 1970s and slowly evolved into a rather upmarket hippie retreat in northern New South Wales (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more).

Byron Bay Caravan Park

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.

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.


Minyon Falls

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.

Laird visits

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.

Summing up…

  • AccommodationGlenvilla Resort is a bit out of town but we enjoyed the stay
    • Cost per night – $42.71 (@6-Jul-2020)
    • 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 (maplink)
    • 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
    • Tourist info centre?80 Jonson St, Byron Bay (website)
    • 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 NSW

About Woolgoolga

Everyone who travels north along the Pacific Highway knows Woolgoolga because it is “that town with the Indian temples”. The traveller, noting the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple on one side of the road would be forgiven for thinking they were not in the New South Wales northern rivers district but in part of the Punjab. It is also, although few people stop and spend time, a pleasant seaside town which spreads from the hills down to the beach and headland. The region’s real bonus is that Ocean View Beach at Arrawarra Headland, just 9 km north of Woolgoolga, has some of the finest Aboriginal stone fish traps in the country (sourced from the Aussie Towns website – click for more)

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…

  • Accommodation Woolgoolga Beachside Caravan Park is a great park right on the beach – totally recommend it
    • Cost per night $42.17 (@ 5-Jul-2020)
    • Facilities very clean and tidy
    • CP Location right in town, next to shops, restaurants and beach (maplink)
    • Our rating/score8/10
  • 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
    • Tourist info centre?35 Beach St, Woolgoolga (website)
    • 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.

Shepparton & Gundagai

Day 1 of our trip sees us leaving home in Melbourne and heading for Shepparton, where we’d booked into Park Lane Big4 Caravan Park, to catch up with friends, Gary & Shirley, for a dinner party at their place in Lifestyle Living. The next morning we also caught up with other friends, Gary & Lorraine, for breakfast at their place. What a lovely way to begin our journey.

The following day we left a very wet and overcast day in “Shepp” for Gundagai in NSW. Trusty old “wikicamps” helped us to find a nice little free camp called Morleys Creek RV Camp just outside of town. It rained all night!

Summing up…

  • Accommodation:
    • Shepparton Park Lane Big4 Caravan Park is really neat and tidy with good amenities & friendly managers.
      • Cost per night $43.00 (@ 20-Jun-2020)
      • Facilities good & clean.
      • CP Location a bit out of town but you’re away from the “rush” (maplink)
      • Our rating/score8/10
    • Gundagai – Morleys Creek RV Free Camp is out of town, a bit boggy, next to a creek
      • Cost per night $0.00
      • Facilities nothing there
      • Location we picked the wrong spot (maplink) – there is another closer to town (and walking distance – maplink)
      • Our rating/score4/10
  • Was it a nice town to visit?both are nice to visit
    • Activities & places of interestnever bothered to look – overnighter at both locations
    • Tourist info centre?
      • Shepparton530 Wyndham St, Shepparton (website)
      • Gundagai – 249 Sheridan St, Gundagai (website)
    • Would we return? Shepparton – yes. Gundagai – probable not and stay in Jugiong free camp instead
    • Overall Score Shepparton 8/10 & Gundagai 6/10
  • Summary We will always stay in the same CP in Shepparton, as it is a very neat and tidy park. Gundagai was just an overnighter to break our travel up and next time we will try a lot harder to find the free camp in town instead of this one