Tuesday, 11 October 2016

8-10 2016 Denham, Chapman Valley, Mullewa, Kalbarri, WILD FLOWERS

South of Billabong
I left Waroona mid August and travelled up via Middle Road to Three Springs, then on to Denham to stay with friends. The wild flowers every where have been amazing especially the Wreath flowers out of Pindar.
Galena Bridge
Three Springs has a 'caravan park' run by the shire. It is free but for a $10 bond you get the key from the Shire office and then have use of the toilet and hot showers. There are a couple of taps there. Also public toilets that may be locked at night?
Galena Bridge overnight camp is a very popular place. A large camp on the south and a smaller one north of the bridge. Picnic tables, toilets and dumps on both sides.
Pink Lake, Port Gregory

North of the bridge is Nerren Nerren overnight camp also with facilities. Plenty of parking off the seal but I wonder if it may get boggy in the rain and there are a couple of drains that may catch a caravan. I was tempted to go and hide in the scrub to the south but the trees were a bit low and close in places.
I stopped at the Linga Longa caravan park for a few days so I could see the Pink Lake and go to Hutt Principality. Lovely people but basic amenities, no TV, limited phone.

Yuna Hall
Behind the Yuna Hall is a free camp with toilets. Unfortunately the pub is shut for now - there are only a few houses but quite a busy school. Lovely drive through the Chapman Valley at this time of year. Once again no TV, limited phone.
The camp at Tenindawa was great - phone and excellent TV there. Lots of places to park in the scrub. No facilities or I would have stayed longer. Was also windy but it has been like that for weeks it seems.
Northampton gravel pit
On to Mullewa CP for a couple of nights so I could leave the van. Extremely busy during the wild flower season. Cannot book either - so get there early and hope there are powered sites if you need them. Headed up to Wandina one day but struck the gravel and had another 25km to go - too hard :) Went to Pindar and up the 10 km of gravel to see the wreath flowers instead. A stunning display for over a km along both sides of the road.
From Mullewa I headed to Ellendale Pool. Lovely spot and a big pool for kayaks etc although care needed when swimming. Honesty box to pay $5 pp,pn. Quite a few there. Sealed winding road in from the south down to the river.
Next stop was Eneabba at the oval. $5 pp pn also but  you get toilets and hot showers at the Rec centre. Ranger collects the money in the morning. Pub is walking distance and meals also available at the Miners Camp some nights.
 Lake Indoon was the next stop.  I was assured that it was OK to take the caravan along the track to the left. Almost off roading at the end turn around but managed ok. Stayed there a night. I was told the has not been water in the lake for a few years so the locals are enjoying having their playground back again. this year.
On down to Seabird. There is a dump at Cervantes but only during the Tip hours. The Shire has sealed several rest areas south of there and there is a toilet and dump on the west side of the highway about half way between there and Seabird.
Spent a lovely couple of weeks with friends near Seabird who welcome travellers. We did the Neergabby fireworks night over the long weekend. Thousands come to it each year. Pity it is not a camp area though.
A couple of other friends to visit before heading back to Waroona to help with the show. What a busy time that is. So much work by so few people. Great to see some younger ones helping now. I spent Friday in the hall helping take the entries then displaying them In bed by 11 pm! Not used to 8 hours on my feet any more. Back on Show day as a steward in the hall for much of the day then back on Sunday to help sort the tables for next year. Was great to catch up with so many of the locals I have got to know of the past 9 months.
Have another part time job at the Pinjarra Paceway helping check in the drivers and trainers on a Monday - until they get a permanent person to do it. Have a house sit until the end of November so probably wont add much to the blog for a while.

Monday, 27 June 2016

May July...2016

Having spent 3 months working with BlazeAid after the Waroona fire I am still in the area. Spent a month on a farm then moved into a big modern farm house for 3 weeks while the owners are away. A couple of dogs to feed. Loving a big comfortable bed and all the mod-cons. The kitchen is longer than the caravan so getting lots of exercise! I have the caravan in for a service, been to a dentist, done some shopping, had my back fixed...... am enjoying the time to do these things. Go out for dinner most weeks with friends, have stayed at a Beach cottage, and been to several 'fire recovery' breakfasts. These are great for getting to chat to farmers I had only spoken to on the phone.

I have another house sit to do and possibly a longer term one after that so will really get to know this area. Such lovely generous people who have become friends. When on the road we drive through these small towns and often wonder what makes them tick so it has been a wonderful experience getting involved in the community - all be it as a result of a tragic fire.
Visited a lovely old gentleman who has a 'museum' of things he has collected. Built a slab cabin to house them in, and has old street lamps planted in the garden. Great use of old tree roots for a gnome garden for children. I know every road on the wall after so much time in the area! The Bandicoots are thriving here after the fire devastated their block of bush nearby.

 Went for a drive up Scarp Road to see how the bush is recovering and saw Grass Trees sprouting the most unusual knobbly growth. It doesn't appear on all of them either. Very strange. No doubt I will find someone who can explain it for me:)
After some research got a reply from an expert who tells me this is NOT a grass tree - rather is:
 Kinga australis
Outstanding slow-growing plant, the only species in the Genus. Although it resembles the Xanthorrhoea it is NOT related to the Grass Tree. Grows naturally all over the south west in Western Australia. Woody perennial with narrow grass-like leaves, clumping and arching as they mature. A trunk develops after many years. Flowers are white and appear in winter through summer.
Well - glad I sorted that out!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

February - May, BlazeAid 2016

It has been a couple of months since I updated the blog.
Left the caravan at a park in Lithgow ($58 per week!) and took a very cheap train to Sydney Airport - all of $13.50 for a 2.5 hour stress-free trip.  Flew home for my sister's 70th birthday and a lovely visit with my best friends. Rather cold and wet but lots of fun. 

Back to Aus and a 'quick' trip across to Perth. All of 4000 km and only 4 weeks to get there. A bit different doing 1,000 km a week instead of my normal 200!!!!! Good trip though.

Managed to spend a few days with BlazeAid in Grass Patch working in the kitchen  then down to Albany to stay with a friend who was house sitting. On up to Yanchep, and Perth for Xmas with family and the granddaughters from NZ. Even managed to take them shopping at Meyers one day. That was fun. 

Decided to head south again after New Year - Greenbush and back to Albany via Manjimup, Bridgetown, Mt Barker. Bad fire at Waroona so will go there when BlazeAid starts. Back to Albany then my friend and I decided to go to Tozers bush camp and explore Bremer Bay for a few days. Lots of thunderstorms in the distance but still having trouble taking photos of the lightening! Great sunsets with the fire smoke.
 From there up to a friend with a farm but due to the rain only stayed one night. Got out just in time - the road was closed later that day. Went to Broomehill CP then up to Wagin waiting for the BlazeAid camp to start.

 On 27 Jan joined Jim at Waroona Oval and started getting organised. Rang lots of farmers once I had made a data base from all the info collected at farm meetings. We have a great facility at the Memorial Hall with plenty of room and a new kitchen - but nothing other than crockery!!!!! Had trouble getting a hall key for a while - DFES had been here during the fire and hadnt returned the keys. We had all their left over water, milk etc which had to be sorted and stored. Off to Bunbury the day after the official co-ordinator arrived - picked up 6 new enclosed trailers and lots of tools. 

Had 2 nights out dining with locals - lovely people. Finally got keys sorted then stuff started arriving!!!!! Fridges, freezers, pots, cutlery meat, vegies, cooler rooms -  and volunteers. What an amazing organisation this is. No-one gets paid so all donations are spent on setting up camps, buying equipment and feeding the volunteers. BlazeAid now comes in to help after floods and droughts also. Several are heading up to Julia Creek for the winter to spend time with drought stricken farmers - just to be there for company, and to do odd jobs. 
A few more fires around the area - deliberately lit we hear! I can understand how the big one spread so fast though. Massive winds some nights come over the scarp to the east! Hard to sleep when the van is shaking so much!

We had one trailer stolen a couple of days ago. Miserable hounds. Luckily it only had a basic kit in it and the word has spread on social media like wildfire! The the Lions turned up with a new box trailer for us, and another group has rung in to say they will buy us another fencing trailer.

 Our cook wanted a couple of big pots - more Lions with money bought 4 of them at around $200 each. The generosity of service clubs and ordinary people after a disaster is very humbling. The locals are starting to learn about BlazeAid and are quite overwhelmed that a team of 3-5 will turn up and help them do a job in a day or 2 that may have taken them a week on their own.
 Will probably stay here for a month or so - the camp hopefully will close in April then all the trailers will be stored over in WA for future use.
Went for a drive out to one of the farms near Yarloop. Had to go through the roadblock but with the BlazeAid badge that is OK.

There is so much new growth on the trees now and the grass is starting to grow so looking a bit better than it was a month ago. This farmer still has no access from his shed to his house without going through his paddocks as the road bridge is unsafe - fire burnt the wood under the road. He was so lucky not to lose his house. It had started to burn at the back of the shed!
Had boys from Aquinas college helping on a couple of Sundays. They are loving it. We are also helping on vineyards - cutting all the smoke affected grapes off so the vines can recover properly.
Easter has become a slow period - not what we expected as people like to be able to come for 4 days. Unfortunately the weather is against us. Had Wednesday off as it was too wet. Saturday is forecast to be  wet also. Huge wild cool winds for the past few days. Recycle bins sent flying and bottles blown across the lawns. Very 'shaky' nights in the vans and so noisy!
Have been 'upgraded' to Kitchen staff now as our lovely cook is leaving. Do have someone to get up early and put breakfast out - whew! Will still do the admin - but that has slowed down considerably also. Hope to close camp on 24th and then spend a few days packing up and getting everything into storage.
Massive final Farmers night - 120 people and the Navy cooking.
Had a busy few weeks winding up the camp. Also went to Anzac Dawn service at Yarloop - rained the whole morning! Am now farm sitting near Waroona. Not sure how long I will stay but really enjoying the quiet - and visiting people I met in the district.

Friday, 6 November 2015

November update

Been to Mackay and had the granddaughter for 2 weeks. Worked my way back down via Nebo, Duaringa, to Gingin to stay with my Kiwi friend who has shifted there from Darwin. Yay. Then down via Maryborough, Boonooroo, Tincan Bay, to Caboolture to stay with more kiwi friends. Samford showgrounds for a few days - getting over a cold, and catching up with Tas. friend. Back up via Dalby to get new springs on the ute at Chinchilla. Travelled with a couple of other nomads for a few weeks. St George, (finally got to the Nindagully pub to camp). Back to Cobar to the farm, then down to Condobolin. 3 days at Gum Bend camp, and a week at the CP - only $150 and it was rather cold so my friend in a campervan and I decided we wanted power for heaters etc. 

On to Wellington to a property to stay with friends I had not seen for 3 years. They were 'house sitting'. Went to Geurie Rodeo. Then on to Chaffey Dam south of Tamworth for 2 weeks. The dam is only 50% atm and the wall is being raised so all our lovely camping areas will be flooded.
Then down to Blandford to go on the Variety Postie Bike Dash with another friend as his support crew. Took his bike to Newcastle then back to get the van and off to Gundy for lunch and Tamworth for the night. Next day to Barraba for lunch and Narrabri for the night. Unfortunately his bike was stolen so we left the bash. Dropped him back at Blandford and headed for Cassilis for a couple of days. Nasty thunderstorms around so at a cp in Gulgong. Heading to Lithgow to store the rig while I head home for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Wallum, Boonooroo

Headed off to Wallum Reserve for a night - just to get back into 'camping mode, then down to the racecourse at Torbanlea for a couple of nights. 
 Drove to Maryborough for some more sealant for the shower. Have found that they didn't seal under the door so maybe that is where the water is getting and staining the bottom of the walls. It is seriously gunked up now!!!!! Had a look at Burrum Heads. Very tidy town. Passed a beautiful big Queenslander - for sale too. Then to Howard, and Childers for lunch and fuel. Another pretty town up on a hill. Wondering what the huge plantations are - not mangoes. maybe Avocado. More sugar cane.
Decided the Bruce Hway is far to busy so off to Hervey Bay. (pronounced HARVEY) What a big place that turned out to be. Drove all along the bay but couldnt get down to the beach with the van on, so back out again. Stopped at ARB for new canopy door struts then on to Maryborough. GPS takes you right through the town centre - bit tight! Passed a big old boat building yard beside the railway line - now all closed up. Am told they built frigates there and when launched they took up the width of the river.
Nice drive south through some old pine forest (Tuan). Tall but not big for their age. Called into Maroom  - another little village but decided not to stop there - on to Boonooroo which is another tiny place beside the sea looking across to Fraser island.  Has a Bowls Club, CP with a store of sorts and the Golf Club & Tavern. What a little treasure. Lovely couple running the place. An area cleared out behind the course for self contained campers. I couldnt get the gas working properly so the local plumber was sent to see if he could help. Happy hour at the tavern with a lovely bunch of locals. Had takeaway fish n chips for dinner - which was put on a plate, covered with foil and then I was driven back to the van on a golf cart. How is that for service. Delicious meal too - home-made fresh salad topped it off!
Had been pretty windy during the afternoon and there was a brief but heavy thunderstorm in the evening. This spot could be hard to get out of after heavy rain I think. One other van here overnight. Frogs singing a lullaby for hours!
Woke to a lovely day and didnt have to go get a new regulator for the gas as it is working fine. Must have had a block somewhere.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Nebo, Duaringa, Goovegin, Gingin

Taking a stroll south now. Couple of nights at Nebo showgrounds - it was damp so didnt feel like travelling. Then down the beef road - Fitzroy Development Road from Nebo to Dingo. Very good road all the way and not much traffic. Mostly mine utes and some big trucks. Was going to detour to Middlemount - next time maybe. Did stop at the Mackenzie river - except I didnt realise that was 'it'. Checked the camp under the bridge. Would be great for campervans but really no good places for a caravan. Luckily there is a small circular road so didnt have to back out. One good spot at the end of the road right beside the river but wouldnt like to be there if it rained! There is also a large truck stop with toilet north of the bridge.
On to Dingo CP. OK but no radio, TV, internet or phone!!!! Very noisy trains until after midnight. They do long toots before the mainroad crossing!
Decided to got to Blackwater showgrounds the next day as I have not been that way. Found a supermarket so stocked up, checked out the showgrounds and decided I didn't want to pay $10 to use a toilet. Asked a local about the road to Rolleston - dirt and not great so decided to go back the 54 km to Dingo and on to Duaringa!  What a great camp that is. Very big, toilets, showers and a dump. Very popular. Nice ladies in the Info centre. Found a laundry at the BP. Spent 3 days there. Met friends from a year ago also - more uke playing.
Had to get right off the road when I left - huge load on a truck. Just the bucket froma dump truck - massive things.  Lucky I had room to shift over!

On down to Goovegin showgrounds with TV & internet! $10 for power. They are developing the camping area and have put in 6 pads - but very close together and too far forward so there is very little room to park unless you come in the 'wrong' way and park facing the footpath and power boxes. Most people drive over the footpath and between the trees and power boxes. Then someone has fenced off the grounds for the ponyclub - which no longer exists! This has limited the maneuvering greatly. Power points but only 1 tap. Lot more money being spent here we are told including taps. Reasonable meals at the pub, and a little shop. Good company here and met a bloke with a guitar so plenty of music. Stayed 5 night in the end.
On down towards Eidsvold. Decided to go in to Wuruma Dam. Such a lovely place BUT FULL. Did manage to get down near the lake eventually after peering down all these steep tracks and wondering if...... Parked on a bit of a road and had a chat to the neighbours. Then the Sunwater man came and explained that I was on the road - even though there was another road on the lower side of the picnic table as well. But said I could stay as it was only for the night.
Down to Kerwee Road  - the Monto road in from Langley is closed. Lovely drive across to GinGin and to a friends property out in the country where I will stay for a week - at least until after the Rugby this weekend! And that was a let down! Ah well - have to let the Aussies win sometimes!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Home Hill, Airlie Beach, Seaforth

Spent a week at Ravenswood - pay 5 and get 2 days free. Lovely break from travelling.
On to Home Hill showgrounds - $15 powered or $12 unpowered. Kiwi couple running it and met another kiwi couple there as well. The free camp behind the Comfort stop is VERY popular. Was full by 2pm. The rest area at the southern end of town is also used as an overnighter it seems.
Stopped at a roadside fruit truck and tried a dragon fruit - deep red and delicious. I hear on the radio that they grow like a weed and climb trees so that even if you kill the base they can still live off their aerial roots!

Stopped at Lake Proserpine Kanga Camp for one night. More of a kids school camp with cabins but OK. No view of the lake - it is further down the road. Had an interesting drive in. Stupid GPS! Took me along Up River Rd then wanted me to ford a river. Seal ran out and a good dirt road took me through cane fields then through a paddock to a Water treatment plant. Luckily there was a man there who said I take the rocky ford over the river and go through the gate back to the right road. Had a look and decided that it was simply not sensible with a caravan. Steep dirt track up to the gate etc, so went back to Spruce Road and over the river to the Crystal Brook road.  The camp gets many phone calls from lost campers - maybe a sign on Spruce Road would help!

Stopped at a CP in Airlie Beach for 3 days. So many backpackers in town. Much bigger than I expected and plenty of shopping. Big apartment blocks hanging on the hillsides. Treated myself to a Hot Rock seafood lunch one day. Stayed an extra day as there was heavy rain! Was thinking about doing something here with my granddaughter but all so expensive and geared for young adventurers, diving, sailing or flying. Even to go see crocodiles will be $200!
Spent a few days at Boulder Creek with friends. Have traded my soprano Uke for a tenor one - much easier to play so lots of music here with 2 other players.
Had 2 weeks gramping with my granddaughter. A week at Lake Elphinstone (new toilet block) and several nomad friends who adopted her. Weather was a bit temperamental for a few days but managed a campfire and cooking. Then a lovely quiet drive on up via Collinsville and back into madness from Bowen down to Glen Erin Farmstay CP 10 km south. Lovely spot. Communal campfire, and damper every evening for Happy Hour. Spent 4 days there. A few hours in Bowen - haircuts etc. and found a graphic place - finally got 'branded' with La Vida!
Then a night at Airlie Beach CP and another at Boulder Creek. Heavy rain that night and the creek is a bit cold for swimming! Has been fun having someone to play cards with.
Back at Seaforth for a few days catching up with washing and getting the caravan 'back to normal' ready for wandering south again.