http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog On 1st April, two April Fools will set off Round the World, on a trip of a lifetime! Mon, 06 Feb 2012 00:36:46 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 (Year 2) Days 230, 231 and 232 – The Run from Sydney to Brissy (Again!) http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6195 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6195#comments Sat, 04 Feb 2012 08:00:11 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6195 We’ve picked up the last of our campervan relocations today – this is number 6!

This one will get us back up to Brissy (and the Gold Coast) and back to Simon and Tracy’s!! We’re not going to make it over to WA and Perth, Freemantle and Broome – we do need to move on as we need to watch the weather in other areas going forwards!!

Today leaving Sydney the weather is absolutely glorious – the sun is shining and the rain clouds are well and truly hidden. Last time we did this route, if you remember, we turned off and went inland via Glouceser, Stroud and Walcha – very, very beautiful. This time we are staying on the coast road (Pacific Highway) and where we can – time and mileage allowing, we’ve turned off and driven some of the designated ‘tourist drives’.

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We’ve had a fab few days and again, seen some really beautiful scenery – there is no end of amazing, golden beaches and stretches of wonderful coast in this country. On Saturday one of the Tourist Drives took us through the lovely area called The Entrance, (NE of Gosford (not Lakes Entrance, as that is further South)), a very picturesque area. We then had the lovely area of Belmont and then on further and through the Booti Booti National Park – well worth another visit to explore and hike around here.

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Couldn’t find anywhere free to camp around here for the night though – they have it well and truly ‘sewn up’ – proper campsites and lots of signage in other areas telling you not to camp overnight and the huge fines if you do!!

Sunday saw us taking in our breakfast in a beautiful picnic spot in North Haven and then on to Port Macquarie. Now I really loved this town with its ubiquitous radiata fir trees and rocky, but also sandy beaches. Then we continued on through more beautiful areas – Crescent Head, Gladstone and then we made some lunch in Coffs Harbour – again a really delightful seaside town; another gorgeous place for a holiday.

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A big disappoint was Byron Bay!! It looked to us like a ‘yobs’ hangout and somewhere best to be avoided!!! We drove through it twice to get a ‘feel’ of the place and it was like arriving in Vang Vieng in Laos, where, an otherwise gentle, quiet resort becomes a mecca for drunkenness and bad behaviour ……………!! We could be wrong about this place, but we didn’t bother hanging around – with the hundreds of miles of coastline and the numerous beautiful, small towns, why crowd in to one noisy place?!!

Both nights we’ve found free camping in the rest areas on the side of the Pacific Highway – a bit noisy (!!), but it saves the dollars!!

A couple of not so nice things to tell you about:- 1. We heard on the radio that a woman had been seriously assaulted by a man in some toilets in Lane Cove National Park in Sydney. This is where we stayed just a couple of days’ ago and also before Xmas!!! In fact, the visit before Xmas I’d been out walking quite a few times on my own and had used the loos where this woman was attacked!! So that sent shivers down my spine. 2. Just yesterday I was reading a magazine that had an article in it about a young woman who’d died in a serious road accident. Only lots of things didn’t stack up for her Mother and brothers and they then spent 7 years on further private investigation before the Police and the Coroner accepted that she’d been murdered. Having read the article, I looked to the bottom to see where this had happened in Oz and funnily enough it was in NSW and, even stranger, it was just up the road from where we were having brekkie at North Haven in a beauty spot called Bonny Hills. We drove through there about 40 minutes later – a lovely area, where this poor woman met her end.

Monday today and we head on into Brissy, return the van and then make our way back to Simon and Tracy’s. One more week on the Gold Coast and then we fly to Auckland in NZ – yes, we’ve booked our flights! We need to get back on our bikes methinks!!!!!!

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(Year 2) Days 228 and Day 229 – Soggy Days in Sydney!! http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6189 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6189#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2012 12:00:14 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6189 So, here we are, back in Sydney!
It is cold and wet; I think this is day 4 of non-stop raining, so the camp site is a bit of a quagmire!!

We’ve made it down into the city from our campsite though and over the water to the lovely surburb of Manly. There are so many little, hamlets, villages and suburbs to choose to visit in Sydney; this is what makes this place so special – lots of fingers of headland and plenty of nice beaches and coves.

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Manly was delightful, despite the soggy day. It also meant that we had a long ferry ride and went in a different direction to Cockatoo Island and therefore got to see additional headlands to what we’d seen on our previous visit. Manly is a piece of land that is right on the outer edge of Sydney harbour – it has two beaches, one on the ‘sea’ side and one on the sheltered, protected harbour side.

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From Manly we went to Surrey Hills – this is an area of charity shops, boutiques and cafes, a bit like Carnaby Street in London; an enjoyable couple of hours spent meandering around there.

We’ve spent 2 nights here at the campsite (Thurs and Friday) and it has poured the whole time we’ve been here – no let up at all. It is wet and soggy and a bit miserable to be honest! We’ve spent much of our time reading in the TV Room – thank Heavens for small mercies! We also grabbed a couple of blankets going spare in the laundry room – and, yes, we’ve needed them as it’s been a bit chilly through the night and our sleeping bags are at Simon and Tracy’s!!!!

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And Just 2 More Slide Shows!! http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6184 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6184#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2012 07:15:01 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6184 Two more slideshows:-

 

 

 

 

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And more Slide Shows http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6182 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6182#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2012 07:10:46 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6182 A couple more slideshows for you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Slide Shows ……….. http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6179 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6179#comments Thu, 02 Feb 2012 07:00:02 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6179 Now had access to the internet to upload lots and lots of photos.  You can view ALL our photos by going to the HOME PAGE and clicking on Photos and then accessing the Australia and Australia 2 Albums!!

 

Here are a couple of slideshows below:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Year 2) Day 227 – On to Canberra http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6176 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6176#comments Wed, 01 Feb 2012 07:40:23 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6176 Last night we had a quick whirlwind overnighter at Rachel’s house in Melbourne and boy is it chilly here?!

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If you remember, when we were in this area before, it was the beginning of their Summer and everyone in Melbourne and Sydney were telling us how cold it was and how unusual it was to have weather so cold at this time of the year – well, it is still the same!! We all moan about our weather in the UK, mmmmm, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be here I can tell you! This is their summer and it isn’t very good down South – Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney – the coldest summer in 12 years and the wettest one in 11 years apparently. The temperature this morning is 12degrees and yes we are grabbing our long-sleeved tops. They are also having quite a lot of flooding in Northern NSW (now), and also in Queensland (last week I believe).

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This morning we saw the most terrible thing, a dead body in the road, a crumpled racing bicycle and a severely dented lorry. It was at a major intersection at about 7am. This brings Victoria’s road death toll for this year to 29 – yes, for one month only – can you believe it – a large number – incredible isn’t it? Last year – 2011, the official road death toll was 287 of which 8 were cyclists and 49 were motorbikers. Apparently the man was 61 years of age and was trying to cross this very busy road – not too sure of any other information other than that, but it greatly upset us and all day I just couldn’t stop thinking about how the life of his family and friends would now be changed from this day forward …………………….. Makes you think eh?

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Soon after this we saw another dead being – this time a very small, silver koala bear on the hard shoulder of the Hume Highway, so this didn’t help our moods either …………. Further on up the road they’ve installed treetop, wildlife walks, for any wildlife to use to get from one side of the motorway to the other – let’s hope they all start to use them.

Just one more ‘road’ event to tell you about – there we are in a campervan on a straight main road doing about 70Kph when an absolute idiot of a hoon, overtakes us in his Ute and cuts in front of us. He did this manoeuvre so severely that Rog had to swerve violently. If we’d not moved over to our left, he’d have hit us. We have no idea what his problem was, other than maybe we were just going to slow for him – the road speed had just increased from 80 to 100 and this hoon obviously wanted to get home faster – probably to look for his brain!!!! He turned off a slip road to our left and slowed down to shout and gesticulate at us and, of course, he had me shouting and gesticulating back – like a demented banshee! He also got a very definite ‘finger’ – not too sure what we’d have done if he’d have come after us, but the mood I was in I didn’t seem to care ………….!!!! On top of all these events, the rain was lashing down all day and we had high winds – other than all of this we had a fab day ………………….. yeah right ……..

Before I forget, I must tell you that we saw a large submarine embedded on a lawn – apparently outside a submarine museum – a strange thing to see when we aren’t near the sea!!!

Our day improved hugely when we visited Canberra and did a whirlwind trip that we really enjoyed. What a lovely Capital City – very green, very new and lots of good vibes – it even sits in its own State – ACT (Australian Capital Territory)! It is an entirely planned city and it shows, with significant topographical landmarks, that are within view of each other – the War Memorial, Parliament House, Telstra Tower; the view from the War Memorial down and over to the new Parliament House is lovely. We really enjoyed all of the architecture, particularly the way the city is laid out. There is a feel of people enjoying themselves here, as well as a feeling of business – a ‘work hard, play hard’ feeling – plenty of people out jogging and lots and lots of cyclists! We drove around, doing our speed tourist thing …………. Parliament House, Old Parliament House, The Tent Embassy and the War Memorial. Canberra was selected as the capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne!!

We enjoyed the War Memorial, with the evening sun just dappling the building – a time to reflect on lives lost. A lovely statue of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey Duffy. Simpson was a POM, who served in ANZAC and saw active service in Gallipoli during WW1 as a stretcher bearer. He found his donkey and used Duffy to carry the wounded from the front line down to the beach for evacuation – often under fire. He did this for three weeks until he lost his own life …..

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(Year 2) Day 226 – The Grampians http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6164 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6164#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2012 07:00:20 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6164 We witnessed a lovely sunrise at our camping spot

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The Loop, on The Coorong – beautiful. Then 10kms down the road and we stopped for bacon butties in a gorgeous picnic spot called The Granites.

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Plenty of wildlife on the way – a really beautiful red-furred fox and a large kanga in an arable field, having his breakfast! Plenty of silver gum trees on the landscape now, as well as the radiata fir trees.

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We’ve had a very picturesque drive up into the Grampians, a very rocky, compact mountain range. A very worthwhile trip; large mountains, lots of pines and some really stunning views. Plenty of small,steep, twisting roads and waterfalls to boot.

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Then out of the Grampians and on through some lovely places – Ararat and Beaufort that I particularly remember. Native flowers being grown and sold in this area and plenty of sheep grazing along the way as well as masses of vineyards – a very fertile area methinks.

Very windy and, would you believe it is a tad chilly now and we are digging out our long-sleeved tops from our rucksacks……..!!!!!!!!

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(Year 2) Day 225 – The Coorong http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6151 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6151#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2012 07:00:08 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6151 Rog‟s been to pick up our relocation and “guess what?”

it’s the same vehicle – Nancy Nomad camper that we brought down here!!! Apparently they‟ve had a ‘no show’ and so now they’ve decided to ship her on to Sydney!!

The weather has been very strange lately! We‟ve had glorious sunshine one day, then very overcast the next and extremely high winds; hardly any sleep has been achieved and last night the wind was absolutely terrible, as it is today!

We headed South out of Adelaide and down by Lake Alexandrina – all very beautiful countryside; it is either vineyard or farming country all around here – the fields are all very dry and parched and the terrain is fairly hilly, with lots of sheep and cattle grazing. We passed through some very picturesque places – Victor Harbor, Port Elliot, Milang, Wellington and through some gorgeous vineyard country, with the vines thick with fruit. We then crossed the Murray River, via a free ferry service (bonus!) – plenty of Roselles, shrieking and causing mayhem around here!

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We particularly enjoyed an area called The Coorong – plenty of beef cattle grazing along here and fairly rugged coastline that we both really like. The Coorong is a lagoon and the name is thought to originate from the Aborigine word “kurangh”, meaning „long neck‟ and is a reference to the shape of the lagoon and spit of land. The area is now a National Park and is indeed very beautiful – tranquil with rugged areas of stony beaches and lots of sandy, „heathland‟ areas. The unique thing about the Coorong is the interaction of water throughout the lagoons, with the sea water and also the Murray River waters meeting. We chose to camp here for the night in an area set aside for RV camping, called „The Loop‟ – just one other camper and us for the night; it was pitch black, with just the sound of the distant water and the howling wind!

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(Year 2) Days 223 & 224 – Adelaide http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6144 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6144#comments Sat, 28 Jan 2012 07:00:15 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6144 We’ve had 2 days of relaxing

either at the campsite and/or down on the beach or in Adelaide itself.

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We ventured in to Adelaide on Saturday; a lovely place and we really enjoyed the ambience of this city. We had a belated lunch in a lovely Italian, with a very scrummy bottle of Marlborough wine …………….

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We’ve seen some beautiful sunsets on the beach and, in fact, on Sunday we watched the sunset complete with another bottle of wine! On Friday we saw and booked up another van to get us from here to Sydney and we pick this one up on Monday

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(Year 2) Day 222 – What a Long Drive!! http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6139 http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/archives/6139#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 08:00:00 +0000 Rog & Dee http://www.afistfullofgears.co.uk/blog/?p=6139 We‟ve arrived in Adelaide – a whopping 3,700kms drive from Darwin!!
We‟re booked in to a Big4 Camping site and it is very busy!!! It‟s located to the West of Adelaide in an area called Harbour Shores and the beach is actually called West Beach. We only just managed to get a pitch and that‟s because someone else left a day early!! I guess because it was Australia Day yesterday and many people have taken today off work to make it a long weekend; a chance for families to get together and have some fun. The site is HUGE, has a large kitchen, playing areas for kids, 2 pools (so busy, the swimmers were like beans in a saucepan Rog said!!), and access to the wonderful sandy beach front. I‟ve been down already for a swim and to collect some shells!!

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Some people weren‟t quite so happy about it being Australia Day! Did you see/hear on the news about the Oz Prime Minister (and Opposition Leader) having to be rescued from a noisy mob, and, like Cinderalla, she lost her shoe in the process ………….?! It culminated in the Oz flag being firstly spat upon and then set alight, by a large group outside Parliament whilst they chanted “Always Was, Always Will Be, Aboriginal Land”. Some very interesting letters in the paper followed this fracas and, like all politics, there were very differing views on the topic! One person wrote to say he was “tired of seeing drunk, non-indigenous yobbos all over the city, throwing up whilst draped in the Aussie Flag!”, whilst another wrote about the minority group who had been given “a flag they never had, special considerations over others, an apology, a made-up recognition speech before events, and a nation they never had or recognised”!! We are hoping to make a trip to Canberra and will go and visit the so-called “Tent Embassy‟ of the indigenous people.

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Rog‟s taken the campervan back and in the depot here he‟s met the man responsible for coordinating all the relocations!! What an interesting job to have we reckon and Rog enjoyed his chat with him; he has pretty much confirmed what we thought on the subject of these relocs! He has a sophisticate piece of software to work out what needs to go where and by when, which, in discussion Rog and I had said you‟d definitely need!! The relocations are used for 3 main reasons – 1. Because they have a lucrative one-way hire and need it back in depot X to go out on that hire and 2. Because the depot has no vehicle of that sort on campus and, if they were to take a hire for that particular model they couldn‟t fulfil it and therefore they try and get X number of Y models back to each city/depot 3. Some depots run out of space to store vehicles because some routes are more popular than others and they end up with too many vans from popular one-way hires from tourists and can‟t park them!! So, it has nothing to do with registrations and states as a few people had told us!! He was telling Rog that 60% to 70% of relocations are done by backpackers making it a cheap alternative for the hire companies rather than employing a collection driver, which he does for the remainder. He primarily uses drivers to collect breakdowns and accident vehicles, delivering the replacement vehicle at the same time. Most of the accidents occur for 2 reasons:- 1.Swerving to avoid an animal 2.Driving on to the verge/hard shoulder at too high a speed, causing the vehicle to roll and yes, we‟d thought that this was pretty much the easiest accidents to have from the driving we‟ve done and the things we‟ve seen. Most of the animal incidents are roos and emus – roos because they are so fast and just bound out in front of you and your natural reaction is to swerve and the emus because they will run alongside you for ages before suddenly diving either away or across you!! He said we were lucky with our emu and also the wallaby we hit, in as much as we didn‟t see it until too late, because we‟d probably have swerved. This latest Darwin to Adelaide has only cost us $304 as we were given $500 towards our petrol!! Our next step is to start making our way back up to Brissy and then back to the Gold Coast, although we‟ve contemplated a trip to Perth ………………!!!!!!!

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