Day 72 of retirement

August 27, 2017

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Hi All

Tuesday 22nd August:

Our first change to the planned schedule happened today. Last night while checking our booking for 2 days in Emerald I discovered that our “Discovery Park” booking was not a caravan park but a huge set of cabins that looked like a prison camp.

The car park was away from the cabins as they were all packed in long rows just like a prisoner of war camp. So a quick revision of our plans and we decided to head up the coast to Sarina, a quaint little town 15 minutes from the beach side. A quick call canceled our Discovery Park booking in Emerald (The lady was very nice and didn’t charge us a late cancellation fee as she was entitled to) and re-booked at Sarina in a very nice cabin at the caravan park.

Nice quiet 3.5 hour drive with a yummy fish lunch at the local RSL and settled in for a quiet afternoon. Booked a sugar mill tour for tomorrow morning.

Wednesday 23rd August:

First thing this morning we took a tour at The Sugar Shed to learn about sugar cane and sugar. Very interesting indeed. Ready to be a sugar cane farmer now…..

Then off wandering along the coast where we visited Sarina, Campwin and Grasstree beaches. Sadly all beaches have warnings about stingers so swimming is not an option. But we did manage to find a great little café in Grasstree Beach that did the best-grilled fish and chips.

Also went to Port of Hay Point that is the largest coal loading facility in the southern hemisphere. We counted 30 ships waiting to load and three in the process of loading. Very impressive but also very sad to see all this coal and what it will do to our planet.

Thursday 24th August:

Left Sarina and headed for Airlie Beach some 3 hours away. Arrived midday and got into our cabin straight away (Normally 2:00pm check in). Unpacked and had a “light” steak lunch at the Jubilee Tavern across the road. I must say it was one of the best steaks we have had on the trip so far.

Back for an afternoon siesta.

Made our way downtown to watch the sunset and get Guy’s mud crab. Well mud crabs seem to be in short supply as we only found one restaurant selling them. Guy picked her crab and was then informed that it would be $120.00. Just a bit to rich for us. We asked the lady at the caravan park about alternate venues and she directed us to some much more reasonable mud crab vendors. We shall check them out tomorrow.

Sad to see all the closed damaged businesses from Cyclone Debbie. About a sixth of the Airlie Beach main drag is still to be repaired.

Friday 25th August:

Went exploring in the Dingo Beach area today. Very nice off the beaten track place to visit. Had lunch at the Cape Gloucester eco resort. They serve awesome food looking over the bay.

Back to the cabin in time for the afternoon bird feeding. Guy fed the birds and didn’t get pooped on. I was just watching and got pooped on twice.

Saturday 26th August:

Sad to leave Airlie Beach as it is a very nice place. Stopped into the local Saturday morning market on the foreshore and Guy made a bag and few clothes purchases. It’s getting warmer as we go north so she “needs” some summer clothes.

Leisurely drive to Townsville and arrived at 1:30pm ish. Off to Sizzler, which just so happens to be a 5-minute walk from the cabin, for our one big meal today.

Our cabin is the first one we have encountered with an outside bathroom. The bathroom is right next to the cabin but you have to come outside to access it. It is half the price ($80 instead of $160) of a full ensuite and as we are only staying overnight we can live with that.

Sunday 27th August:

Left Townsville early and some 6 hours (400 km) later we arrived in Port Douglas to our Airbnb apartment at the Mango Tree apartments. Very nice. It’s the size of a small house.

Now Guy has been hanging out for mud crab. The guy at reception told us of a place downtown that will have them “for sure”. So up we rocked and they are sold out. We tried every other restaurant that we could find and no mud crabs.

Our only option is to ring the first restaurant at 9:00am tomorrow and “if” they have any coming in we can reserve one for lunch. So ring we shall tomorrow.

We did however have some very nice smoked salmon, scallops and a crab linguini for a late lunch. Didn’t make up for the missing mud crabs but came in a close second best.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 65 of retirement

August 20, 2017

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Hi All

Saturday 12th August:

Catch up day today. For brunch we met Grace and Wayne who we first met on Marinduque many years ago. They now live in Brisbane.

Then met Karen and Noel for dinner who are originally from Sydney and now living in the sunshine state.

A stroll along the Queens Street Mall on the way home in the balmy evening air finished a great day.

Sunday 13th August:

Started the day with a river cruise for 1.5 hours. Very interesting to see and hear about the landmarks along the river.

Then a stroll over to the Botanical Gardens for a bite to eat and wander.

As we were having high tea at Alina and Alan’s place at 3:00pm we decided to walk there (across the city). Bit of a mistake as it was rather further than anticipated. But we made it and Alina and Alan had an awesome high tea ready for us. Had a great chat and catch up.

Alina was my old boss back in SA many years ago in my old Civica life.

Monday 14th August:

Left sunny Brisbane and headed for Buderim which is an hour drive north. Stayed the night with very old friends Todd and Kristy and Jess and Hayden. Hayden and Jess were a little on the ill side so they had a day home from school.

So for the afternoon we figured the best medicine for the kids was to go to Mooloolaba Beach in the balmy sea breeze. Worked a treat.

Great to catch up for a good old chin wag.

Tuesday 15th August:

Left the gang in Buderim and made our way to Pomona some 45 minute drive north. Meet up with Mike and Gaye, old climbing buddies from one of my Nepal expeditions. Great to see them and their beautiful house in the bush with sweeping views of Mount Pomona.

Two hours drive and we are at Hervey Bay or more precisely Urangan. We are here for the next three nights and are staying in this awesome Airbnb townhouse right on the beachfront. Very new (Only 2 years old) and just a little luxurious.

Wednesday 16th August:

Back from Whale watching and man am I glad to be home. You see I get seasick easily so this morning I took a tablet before we left. The cruise was for 5 hours and as it turned out it was rough. Like hang onto the handrails rough.
I was okay for the first hour then it hit me. Trying to balance on a pitching rolling boat while trying to hold a camera set me off. I spent the rest of the cruise sitting in the breeze staring at the horizon.
I certainly wasn’t alone and at least I didn’t vomit. Man was I glad to set foot on dry land again.
But I must say the whales were spectacular. Coming right up to the boat and breaching just in front of the boat.
If you have good sea legs do it. If not get the video.
PS: I managed one half decent whale pic.

Thursday 17th August:

Off to Fraser Island for the day on a 4×4 tour. Had to endure two Barge crossings but the sea was calm so all good.

Very interesting to hear all the history of the island and see the magnificent sights. Our driver drove faster than he could talk so we weren’t late for lunch and the barge. Interesting ride at times.

Friday 18th August:

Sadly we had to leave our awesome Airbnb behind and headed for Kingaroy. A three hour drive and we arrived at our cabin in the Kingaroy Holiday Park. After unpacking Guy was browsing some local restaurants and found Cassis’s that boasted stunning views of the valley with equally stunning food.

Rang and confirmed and out we went. Well it was worth the trip. Awesome food with sweeping views of the valley was enjoyed by all.

Back into town and a quick stop for a few supplies then settled in for a relaxing late afternoon.

Saturday 19th August:

Off for a drive today (120km round trip) to the Bunya National Park outside Kingaroy. Freezing cold and blowing a gale when we arrived. So brunch by a roaring wood fire was the answer.

After brunch we rugged up and went for the 4km scenic walk round the top of the mountain. Wasn’t too bad in the trees on the side of the mountain. Once we hit the parking lot again the wind hit us again. Nice quiet drive home and Chinese take away for dinner.

At 7:00pm we arrived at the Kingaroy Observatory for a night under the stars. Jim Bradley, owner and astronomer, has 3 large telescopes set up under a sliding roof on the building. He explains what your looking at and then we all get to view it through the telescope.

We saw Jupiter and 4 of its moon, the hamburger galaxy, cluster of stars (forgot the proper name), 2 nebulae, the swan and butterfly and the most fantastic one, the planet Saturn complete with rings.

It was rather cold but Jim had a box full of blankets for all the guests so we survived.

Sunday 20th August:

Left Kingaroy for a 540km (6 hours) drive to Rockhampton this morning (our longest so far). We decided to take the A3 (Australia Country Way) instead of the A1 (National Highway). It is a bit longer but it is a scenic drive through the Queensland countryside dotted with small country towns. And the best bit is that there is NO traffic on it.

Arrived in Rockhampton at 2:00pm and checked into a very nice cabin.

Now Rockhampton is supposed to be the beef capital of Australia so it was off into town to try a steak. Found a great old hotel (Criterion Hotel) to try a steak. They didn’t disappoint as we had a great steak dinner.

Had our first GPS black hole today in the middle of nowhere. Google maps was doing great on the A3 when all of a sudden it told us take a road going away from the A3 signs. So we went with our gut and stayed on the signed road.

For the next 20km Google maps was all over the place telling us to go right then left when nothing was there. It just couldn’t lock on.

Then as I crested a hill Google maps found the way again and confirmed we were on the A3. Weird….

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 56 of retirement

August 11, 2017

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Hi All

Wednesday 2nd August:

Spent the morning on a tour with Outback Opal Tours. Our very talkative driver took us through the old mining area and told us the history and stories of the characters that live there.

One stop was a working Opal mine where we went under ground via one very long and dizzy spiral stair case. We saw an Opal vein in the roof of a working area.

The last stop was an Opal polishing workshop. A lady polisher took a chip of Opal and in 15 minutes she had a beautiful little Opal all polished up.

On the way back to our cabins he showed us the hot springs and the Amigo’s castle (built by a local character).

After lunch at the Bowling Club we went exploring. Went and saw the Cactus Gardens and saw some very old Cacti.

Following a nana nap we made our way to Nettleton’s First Shaft Lookout 5km out of town and watched a glorious sunset.

Thursday 3rd August:

A little side road trip today to Grawin. We headed 65km out west to “The Club in the Scrub”. The last 5km in are on rough dusty dirt road. The poor little Mazda 323 was almost rattled to pieces. This is a registered NSW club that doesn’t have any gambling (Pokies free). It is built out of Cypress Pine logs, as the white ants don’t like it.

We had a great steak sandwich with the lot for lunch. As the rain clouds built up, we made our way back to Lightning Ridge before it hit. Rained steadily for most of the afternonn.

We spent a quiet afternoon doing the washing and rest for a big drive tomorrow.

Friday 4th August:

Left Lightning Ridge on our way to Moree at 9:00am.

Just outside Lightning Ridge we visited Stanley the Emu who is made up of old VW shells, old satellite dishes and other steel. He took two years to build. All the materials were donated along with labor. There is also an “Egg” inside Stanley that will be opened in 2063.

Found a very lovely little café in the middle of nowhere (Bullarah). Great food and we were the only customers while we were there.

Arrive in Moree early afternoon. Did some shopping, explored the town then back to our cabin and the thermal hot pools in the park. Very very relaxed now.

Saturday 5th August:

Left Moree and headed for Glen Innes via Inverell. We made a short detour to see the Cranky Rock reserve. The story goes that a cranky china man murdered his wife here. As he was being pursued he jumped from the Granite cliffs and was found in the river below. Local legend has it that he didn’t jump but was pushed. Regardless, still a beautiful spot.

Made Glen Innes round 1:00pm ish so went exploring round the town. Visited the old hospital museum that had a huge display of early years equipment and photos of years gone by.

Glen Innes also has a strong Celtic heritage. They have The Australian Standing Stones Park that is basically a mini Stone Stonehenge. Very impressive.

Sunday 6th August:

Left Glen Innes and made our way to Tenterfield which is only 90km so a leisurely drive.

Before we left Glen Innes we did the town heritage walk looking at all the old buildings. This town boasts that 80% of all the buildings in the main street are original. When you look closely you can see they are old but I must they are meticulously looked after.

Arrived at Tenterfield at midday and as our cabin was ready we dumped our gear and headed to the Boonoo Boonoo national park for a look at Bald Rock and the waterfall. The map failed to tell us that to see Bald Rock it is 3 hour round trip walk to see it. As we weren’t kitted out for hiking and it was getting on in the afternoon, we passed on the hike.

Next were the waterfalls. After a 600m hike in we made it to the falls. Quite impressive. Then a dusty drive back to the cabin and settled in for a relaxing evening.

Monday 7th August:

Leisurely drive from Tenterfield to Toowoomba as it was only 90km. We arrived at midday to find our cabin wasn’t ready yet (It is after 2:00pm check in so a bit early).

So we wandered downtown for a yummy lunch followed by a visit to the Cobb & Co museum. Very interesting as they have a vast collection of old coaches and horse drawn vehicles.

Back to our cabin at 2:00pm and all ready for us.

We also found a gourmet meat store that had real German Garlic Mettwurst just like we used to get back in Cummins growing up. And it tastes just as good….
The lady in the gourmet butcher shop said the recipe comes from the 80 year old owner who comes in everyday to check that the salami and Mettwurst are made to his high standards.
Time for another slice….

Tuesday 8th August:

Very nice sleep-in this morning as we didn’t get up till 10:30am. After a leisurely breakfast of raisin toast we went for a drive to Crows Nest about 50km north of Toowoomba. Lovely little town.

On the way home we called in to the Crows Nest National Park, as there were waterfalls there. As we are discovering the NPs have these great attractions but all require a bit of a hike to get to them. Once again we weren’t prepared for hike so had to give the falls a miss.

Back to Toowoobma and The Spotted Cow for the best steaks in town and they weren’t bad either.

A quick detour to get some more mettwurst, then a walk round Queens Park botanical gardens. Back to the cabin and relax for the evening.

Wednesday 9th August:

Left Toowoomba and after a 1.5 hour leisurely drive we made it to Guy’s sisters place in Waterford (half hour south of Brisbane). Staying here for 2 nights before heading into the city for 3 nights in an Airbnb down town.

The GPS got us there in quick time. How did we ever get anywhere before GPS….. Guy’s sister, Nida, cooked some pork sinigang (Filipino dish) for lunch and our first home cooked meal since leaving Canberra, then a buffet dinner at her favourite RSL, yummy.

Thursday 10th August:

Off to Broadbeach today to catch-up with a couple of Guy’s old work mates (Jane and Carol). Great catch-up and lots of very important information exchanged along with some yummy food.

Friday 11th August:

Had a nice sleep-in this morning till 10:30am.

After saying our goodbyes to Guy’s sister and family it was off to Brisbane. We only have a 40-minute drive into Brisbane to get to our Airbnb apartment so arrived just after 2:00pm. Some quick shopping for supplies, we settled into planning our next two months travel. Three hours later we had a plan.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 46 of retirement

August 2, 2017

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Hi All

Friday 28th July:

Spent the day exploring Forbes. First stop was the McFeeters Motor Museum. This is a very impressive private motor museum.

It houses 64 cars (All run except 2) and 25 motorbikes. Of the cars 44 are owned by the museum and 20 are on loan from other collectors. Of the bikes 2 are owned by the museum and the rest are on loan from other collectors.

The range of cars and bikes is the best I have ever seem and our guide gave us a 10-minute talk on the history of some of the vehicles. Definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

Then into town and we did the Heritage walk looking at the old original buildings. This was followed by a walk (for you Sandy) along the Lachlan River in the afternoon sun.

Final visit was the Forbes historical museum. Lots of stuff from the old original days of Forbes. Even saw some of the old stuff I grew up with.

That evening we planned our next two weeks route and made some bookings.

Saturday 29th July:

Left Forbes this morning on our way to Narromine, a lovely little country town out from Dubbo.

The first stop was “The Dish” (Radio telescope) outside of Parkes. This is the dish that featured in the Australian movie The Dish. Awesome place to visit and see the history of the radio telescope. Also sat through three 10 minute 3D presentations on the planets and space. Recommended visit if you’re in the area.

Arrived at Narromine and staying in a great cabin next door to the airport. We discovered that they have an awesome private aviation museum walking distance from the caravan park.

In the museum they have the only replica (in the world) of a fully flying Wright Brothers plane. It is a copy of the third plane they made. The guide gave us the full history of the building of the plane and then flying it. Another recommended visit if you’re in the area.

Monday 31st July:

Left Narromine as we headed to Gulargambone via Trangie, Warren and Gilgandra. It rained all the way, which the farmers welcome as it is very dry here this year. Gave the car a good wash as well.

Arrive at 2:00pm ish and settled into the cabin as the rain showers passed us by. At 4:30pm the park owner put on a damper and home made soup in front of a roaring camp fire for all the people staying in the park. It was very yummy.

Also our first stay where we had no Internet or mobile phone signal.

Tuesday 1st August:

Left Gulargambone (In a pea soup fog) on our way to Lightning Ridge for a 3-day stay via Coonamble and Walgett. Nice easy run and arrived at 1:00pm ish.

After a very yummy lunch it was off to the “Chambers of the Black Hand” mine. Now this mine is over 100 years old and in the last 18 years a local man has carved some 700+ figures in the walls of the mine. Some are tiny (Fit in your hand) and some are huge (The Buddha). It is a pretty awesome place.

A drive round the town checking out a few landmarks then settled in our luxurious cabin for a quiet evening.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy