Heading North!

As mentioned previously, we finally left Tamworth on Friday 31st January. We’d lined up to work on a sweet potato farm in Rockhampton thanks to Kevin (his brother in law’s place). We received a call to say it was too wet to start work at the original time and so we were able to take the longer route north (our original plan was to just get there as quickly as possible!). Our first stop was Nambucca Heads (2 nights) where we were able to catch up with some of Simon’s relatives (Uncle Tim and Aunty Lil, Trent and Katie, and Junise and Dean) and meet Junise and Dean’s baby, Violet. Unfortunately we were a week too early to meet the Trent and Katie’s new arrival! Once again, we neglected to take photos while we were there…

On our way up from Nambucca we stopped in at the Big Banana for a few photos (you can’t not do these things on a holiday like this!). We didn’t go in and do any ‘touristy’ things though.


Our next stop was Lismore to catch up with my cousin Jillian and her family. Unfortunately we were about 3 months too early to meet their new addition as well! And again I neglected to take photos… The next morning we enjoyed the NSW/QLD time difference due to daylight saving and made our way to White Water World on the Gold Coast. It opens at 10am, and is about a 2hr drive from Lismore, so we left at around 9:30 and got there at 10:30! We had a great day going on all the rides at least twice each. There were hardly any lines due to it being a weekday out of school holidays and slightly overcast.

We’d had enough by mid afternoon and booked ourselves into a caravan park on Bribie Island. We went for a bit of a walk around the next morning before heading off to Gympie. Here are some photos from the beach – It was a lovely place!

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As I said, our next stop was Gympie where we stayed with my friend Lyn (who was a housemate in Charleville many years ago!). It was another lovely catch-up. On our way there we did a climb to a lookout in the glasshouse mountains. Despite the steep climb and the construction work going on at the top, it was worth it for the views!

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We didn’t stop at the Ettamogah Pub…


We DID stop at the Big Pineapple and this time we DID do a bit of the touristy thing 🙂 We went on the little train around the plantation.

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And eventually we made it to Gympie 🙂

We had seen another all you can eat Pizza Hut as we drove through town so Lyn, her aunt, Simon and I all went out for a most enjoyable feed 🙂 The following morning we set off not too early and headed for Bundaburg. We found ourselves a lovely campsite in the Bangara Caravan Park. We had a bit of a look around Bundaburg on our way through and booked ourselves in to see the turtles at Mon Repos.

We had a delicious dinner of fish and chips on the beach at Bargara.

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Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and is the most signficant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific Ocean region. successful breeding here is critical for the survival if this endangered species.” (http://www.bookbundabergregion.com.au/accom_result1/mon-repos-nightly-turtle-encounter/)

The way it works is you book in and pay $10 to see the turtles. People see the turtles in order of booking, not arrival on the night. People are split up into groups, and we were group 5. Rangers monitor the beach while the visitors look through the display and information centre, watch documentaries about the turtles, and enjoy presentations by other rangers. As the turtles are seen on the beach (either a nesting turtle or hatchlings), a group is taken to the beach to view them. We were all given strict instructions on how to behave on the beach including when cameras could be used. At this time of year (first week of Feb) there was a chance to get either the nesting turtle or the hatchlings. By the time our group was called down to the beach it was almost midnight. We were off to see a nesting turtle. As it turned out, this turtle was a bit shy, and many in our group were not very good at obeying the instructions to be still and quiet, so she turned around and went back into the sea without laying her eggs. As disappointing as that was, on her way back she came VERY close to Simon and me! We had chosen not to take the camera with us as there was so little opportunity to use it. We were told that she would most likely just come back the next night and try again. We stayed down on the beach for a little while in the hopes that one of the rangers would spot another turtle coming in to nest. Instead, we got to see hatchlings!! After seeing the big mama turtle, the hatchlings were TINY! Their little shells are about the size of a matchbox with their little heads and flippers poking out. Simon and I stood down near the water and had a good view of the hatchlings making their way down the beach. As they were hit by the water, tossed around, knocked back up the beach several metres, sometimes landing on their backs, they would just pick themselves up and try again! They were so cute 🙂 We were even given a chance to hold one of the babies and feel just how strong those little flippers are! It is hard to believe that there’s a good chance that none of those little hatchlings will make it to adulthood, and if they do, it is 30 years before they will be back on the beach to lay eggs.

I’ve found some photos on google images since we didn’t take any of our own.

Hatchling about to be smashed by a wave

Hatchling about to be smashed by a wave

Waiting to be told of turtle activity

Waiting to be told of turtle activity

See! The hatchlings are tiny!

See! The hatchlings are tiny!

This is probably how our group looked as the big turtle went back to sea...

This is probably how our group looked as the big turtle went back to sea…

What we might have been able to see if she wasn't so shy!

What we might have been able to see if she wasn’t so shy!

Only 1 in 1000 survive to adulthood...

Only 1 in 1000 survive to adulthood…

The next morning we headed back to Bundaburg to have a look through the Bundy Rum distillery. You can’t go to Bundaburg and not do that, I reckon! Even though I’m not a drinker, I still found it interesting. And of course there was another ‘Big’ thing to pose near for a photo!

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From Bundaburg we travelled to Rockhampton (lots of roadworks on the way!!!!) where we stopped for about a week with Simon’s sister Naomi (Simon’s sister) and Joey while we waited out the wet until we could start our work on the sweet potato farm!

More on our Rocky adventures in the next post (I really am trying to get this blog up to date!!).


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Tamworth again…

Our trip from Morney Plains back to Tamworth was relatively uneventful. We pulled up for a night in our camper trailer outside of Cunnamulla and continued the rest of the way to Tamworth the following day. I (Rosalie) was excited to go back on call with Fire & Rescue NSW although being so far from the station (we stayed with Heather and Kevin) I didn’t actually get to go to many jobs.

We spent almost 8 weeks in Tamworth getting ready to go again. Simon had some changes to make to the camper trailer, as well as removing the battery system (among other things) from our old camper and installing it into this one. There was also the task of repacking all of our stuff… Our containers we’d bought for the old camper would not work in the trailer. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of setting up our new camping system was working out what to store things in! Eventually we found a perfect solution (which I have not yet taken a photo of… I will do that next time we pack everything up!)


These are the containers we used

Christmas was a fairly quiet affair. We went to our old church for the Christmas service then spent the day with our friend Maryanne and her 3 boys which was a lovely way to catch up with them.

We had a few visits from Simon’s side of the family, catching up with his sister, Julia, and her boyfriend Mark twice (on their way to the north coast and back), Papa, Uncle Ian and Tracey stopped on their way through town and Simon’s parents also came to visit for a few days. It was wonderful to see them all again!

We took a week off from preparations in January to go visit Mum and Dad (Rosalie’s parents) in Tuncurry which was lovely. We planned the timing around when other relatives would also be in the area so we were able to catch up lots of people all at once! Who knows when we will all meet again? My good friends Lisa and Owen also caught up with us on their way down the coast road from Brisbane to Melbourne – what a bonus!

Beautiful Sunset From the Bridge

The Bridge From Tuncurry Side

The Bridge From Tuncurry Side

On our way home from Tuncurry we took ourselves on a mini adventure and found ourselves here:


On Top of a Hill 🙂

On Top of a Hill 🙂


We also enjoyed some of the free activities associated with the Country Music Festival towards the end of January including being involved in the cavalcade for one last time with Fire and Rescue NSW.

Sisters at the cavalcade :)

Sisters at the cavalcade 🙂

Unfortunately there was no time or money for an Adam Harvey concert 😦 But he did put on a pretty good free show with Troy Cassar-Daley in the park which made everything better!

Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley

Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley (and someone’s head…)

Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley

Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley

The main ‘downer’ of the time back in Tamworth was the rejection of my request for leave without pay from Fire and Rescue for this year. This meant I was left with no choice but to resign from the service. (The only other alternative was to move back to Tamworth and cancel our trip which wasn’t really an option at all!). It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to the best job I’ve ever had, to the people I shared so many experiences with, and the hope to continue being a fire fighter when we settle down again. There were many tears shed and much chocolate consumed after cleaning out my locker and handing in all my gear.

All in all, we had a good time catching up with people we hadn’t expected to see again so soon, set ourselves up with a much better camping system, and finally we were ready to head off for our second attempt at a working holiday!


(PS Sorry for the lack of photos… I couldn’t find my camera for most of our 2 months in Tamworth! Was only using my phone…)

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Station Christmas party!

Our final night on the cattle station was the station Christmas party. It was good fun with quite a few people from the neighbouring stations attending. One of those people looked a lot like my good friend Kat.

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We got talking to this person and found out she was a cook on a nearby property. We also found out she was from Armidale! Simon decided to ask if she knew/was related to Kat. As it turned out, she said she had been asked that same question by at least 3 other people in different places around Australia! Here (bellow) is me with Naomi 🙂 (so they aren’t identical, and they look more alike in real life than in photos!)


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During the course of the conversation, we established that we had many mutual acquaintances. For example, I had met her sister Rachel on a Fighting Words conference (for Christians in the military), and various other people I knew from Canberra Naomi knew from Moore College (including Kat’s sister!). We also worked out that Naomi had gone to the uni church in Armidale so we had many acquaintances in common there as well. Not only that, but she knows some of Simon’s cousins (who also studied in Armidale) and then informed us she had been in a share house with Joey – who is married to Simon’s sister Naomi!! And also in that share house was Neil, who is now married to another friend of mine, also called Naomi!!! Talk about a small world… We had been to church in Longreach the weekend before and met Lizzy, who is just starting out as a governess on a property about 2 hours from there. It turns out she was our new friend Naomi’s cousin! It was such a shame that we were leaving the next day…

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From the banks of the Diamantina…

Well, it’s been a while… This post is being typed from the passenger seat of the car parked in a shady spot under a tree looking out over a mud hole that is more commonly known as the Diamantina River 🙂

But back to our trip… How have we ended up here? We finally left Tamworth late August and took an adventurous route towards Charleville where we caught up with some friends. Due to our very delayed departure, finding work had become a priority. We had lined up to stay with some friends of mine on their property 100km from Charleville. The deal was that Simon and I would ‘work’ (all I did was play with the kids!!) in return for food and internet access! It was a lovely time and after about 10 days we headed off to the job we had found. The job was advertised as a governess position and after enquiring if Simon could be employed as well we accepted! The property we are working on is one of the S. Kidman & Co properties. Morney Plains is 120km west of Windorah, which is a very small town in SW Qld. For those who know where Charleville is, go about another 6 hours west and you’ve found Windorah. The property is a couple of kilometres after the bitumen runs out. The road is sealed all the way from the coast! The Keith Urban song “Where the blacktop ends” comes to mind quite frequently…

We started work on Monday 2nd September and the very next weekend was the Birdsville races (about 3 hours away). We were pretty excited to be able to attend! Not that we are into horse racing or excessive drinking, but being able to say “We’ve done it!” was worth the trip. Unfortunately, the trip wasn’t to be… As Simon was doing the pre-take off checks on the vehicle he noticed oil leaking out of the rear wheels on both sides. Uh oh!! So, a weekend at home for us… He ordered some new wheel bearings assuming that was the problem, even though he had just replaced them before leaving Tamworth. Perhaps there was a dodgy seal or something? Anyway, all we could do was wait for them to arrive.

The following weekend they had still not turned up and just about everyone from the station was heading to Longreach (about 5 hours) for the RM Williams invitational campdraft/rodeo/bronco branding weekend. Our station had a team competing in the bronco branding. I had not heard of bronco branding before this event! We ended up taking a station truck up and collecting supplies for the property which meant we were able to go even though our car was still out of action. It is hard to explain bronco branding but when we have better internet access I will put some photos up for you to see. Otherwise you could probably do an internet search to find out for yourself! It was a good weekend and we even managed to get to Church on Sunday! Longreach Baptist had a lot of visitors that day and we didn’t actually get to meet any of the locals because we were so caught up with the other visitors! It just so happened that we’d all sat near each other.

After another little while, (and an extra trip around the country side because the mail man forgot to deliver them with the mail!) the bearings turned up. Simon removed the old ones to find there was nothing wrong with them… oh well, we have spares now! Next stop was removing the diff locker and seeing if there was something wrong there…

But on to what we actually went to the property to do!! I, Rosalie, am teaching 2 kids in the school room (sometimes 3, although usually the mum teaches the 3rd one). I have a girl in yr 4 and a boy in yr 2 and they are both students through Longreach School of Distance Education. The system has changed a lot since I first worked as a governess back in 2002 in the NT. The work load has increased and its content is difficult. They are following the new national curriculum and I have to say I am not a fan at all!! The lessons are poorly written and assume each child has their own personal assistant/tutor. There is almost no independent learning involved which makes it difficult to keep on top of everything with more than one child in the school room!

Simon is working as a station hand. His job is varied and so far has included fencing, mustering (and all the associated cattle work that follows), and some mechanical work as well. He’s been on several trips with the bore man checking waters and even scored himself a horse riding lesson one afternoon!

There are about 10 other workers here in addition to the managers (whose children I am teaching). It is quite a social property with everyone getting along quite well with each other.

Now, back to the vehicle… After pulling the rear diff apart and a few phone calls later, the conclusion was that the camper and all our gear inside it was just too heavy for our dear old Hilux. What to do? Well, we thought about it and started looking into alternatives. The best thing seemed to be to give in and tow a camper trailer. So began our research!

Another opportunity to travel around presented itself when some of our guys were competing in the Noccundra Rodeo. We borrowed a swag from the managers and set off on Friday afternoon after work. We had dinner at the Windorah Pub then went on for about another hour and camped on the side of the road. The next morning we headed into Quilpie and did some shopping before starting down the road to Thargomindah. Simon contacted the people on the property he’d worked on in 2007. We called in to visit them but unfortunately only Bridgett was there at the time. It was great for Simon to catch up with her and I enjoyed meeting this lady who will always be my competition in the kitchen! From there we continued to Thargomindah then on to Noccundra where we arrived just in time to see the first of ‘our boys’ ride. The rodeo was pretty good but we were both craving a chicken schnitzel! Having lived on beef in its many forms for the last several weeks nothing else was going to satisfy. The schnitzels at the Noccundra Pub were worth every cent we paid! We camped by the river there and made our way home again through Eromanga. All up in just under 48 hours we travelled over 1200km. I can’t remember the actual figures but I will try to find them for another post.

Work continues on at the station in between our weekends away. Both of us for the most part are enjoying our time at Morney Plains. Of course like in all jobs there are ups and downs but the managers are really good people to be working for.

While doing our research into camper trailers, we found there was a Home, Leisure and Camping Show on in Toowoomba. We organised to have a couple of days off to go have a look around there. We were fairly sure of what we wanted to get and found something in our price range. The people at Market Direct Campers were very helpful and agreed to make a trailer for us and take it to the show for us to look at and if we wanted it we could take it there and then. Otherwise they were confident they would find someone else to sell it to during the show. So, on a Wednesday afternoon after work we headed off and made it as far as Quilpie and stayed in a motel overnight (ouch! $$!!) The next day we set off for To0woomba going via Toompine, Cunnamulla, St George and Dalby. We found our motel at about 7pm 🙂 We had KFC for dinner 🙂 On Friday morning we took off to the show and had a quick look around before finding our camper people.

(It has now been 2 weeks since I wrote all of that… We are no longer on the banks of the Diamantina 😦 I ran out of time to finish off the post before we had to head back to work and then we had no internet access back at the property for 10 days after our return! Today, I finally have some time AND internet access and hopefully this will be posted without too much more delay! However, back to Toowoomba…)

The camper people were very friendly and after looking ‘our’ trailer over, as well as the other ones on display, we decided to go ahead with the purchase. From there we had to organise proof of internet money transfer, get a permit to tow an unregistered trailer, buy a height adjustable tow hitch thing (our ute is pretty high!!) and then get back to the show by 4:30pm to collect the camper. We have decided that we don’t like Toowoomba. The lack of street signs made for some stressful moments in the car as we were trying to find the Main Roads office. But we got there in the end. We gave up on the idea of lunch because everything was taking so long. Of course, nothing is as simple as you think it should be! Although having said that, once we actually found the Main Roads office and got inside, the process to get the permit was far simpler than we’d been led to believe!! So, one point to QLD 🙂 I’m pretty sure we would have had much more trouble if we’d been trying to do it through RMS in NSW, even with our NSW licences and address! They never seem to make anything easy in NSW… But back to our camper trailer adventure 🙂

After we had everything sorted and collected the trailer we went back to our motel. Early in the day, throughout our travels, we had noticed a Pizza Hut – yes, a REAL Pizza Hut!! So we went there for an all you can eat Pizza Dinner which went down very nicely having had no lunch! We ate until we couldn’t move, and then had to sit at the table for another 15 minutes or so 🙂 tough times! We then went home via a shopping centre and checked out what shops would be available to us in the morning so we could plan our shopping expedition.

So, Saturday morning we checked out of our motel and hit the shops. We didn’t really have a huge shopping list (we needed sheets for the camper trailer so we could sleep in it on the way home!), but we’d agreed to pick up soft drinks for the social club here at the station while we were there. We had a lovely brunch at the Coffee Club and started the long journey back to the station. We had a late lunch/afternoon tea at KFC in Dalby I think, and then Maccas for dinner at Roma! We camped on the western side of Roma and were happy with our first attempt to set up the camper trailer. The instructions were on a CD so we were just mostly using trial and error which was ok until the sun set! Sunday morning we went the rest of the way home, stopping very briefly in Charleville catching up with some friends just as church finished. We grabbed a grease feed to eat in the car for lunch and continued home stopping at the Windorah Pub for dinner!

2 weeks ago, a vehicle from this station needed to be taken to Birdsville where someone from another station was coming to collect it. That is how we ended up in Birdsville, enjoying a quiet weekend on the banks of the Diamantina. We went out and did “Big Red” which is a sand hill about 35km out of Birdsville. We surprised ourselves and made it up and over first go!! We ate at the Birdsville pub (a few times!) and had a look through the old hospital that has been turned into a bit of a museum. We did swim in the river, too, even though it didn’t look too appealing! Thankfully it wasn’t too hot so we were able to sleep in our camper trailer.

Since then, station life has just continued as usual. I (Rosalie) had a trip to Longreach with the kids and their mum for Swim Camp (part of their schooling). Simon has worked every day since we got back from Birdsville. Most weekends aren’t worked but last weekend and this weekend (today is Saturday) they are all working. There is not much for me to do when everybody else is working! Thankfully this weekend the internet is working so I could at least finish off this blog post! Last weekend I just read my Kindle and slept and cleaned… So that brings us to now! We have about 2 weeks left here on the property. Due to purchasing the camper trailer and needing to ‘offload’ the canopy Simon built, we will be heading back to Tamworth from here. I am planning to go back on call with the Fire Brigade while we are there and while Simon is making the changes to the camper that he wants to do. We haven’t made any definite plans for how long this will take (planning time frames has failed us in the past!) so we will just see what happens next…

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Trial Run

After much effort to get photos loaded into this post, finally I can publish it!! Here is what we did for our trial run after everything was finished. This trip gave us the opportunity to find out if we needed to make changes to our storage systems, find out what we really didn’t need to take with us, and add some things we hadn’t thought of or had forgotten!! Thankfully there wasn’t too much that needed doing 🙂 I hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed our trip!! Sorry it has taken so long to get it up… Some part laziness and some part factors beyond my control!

Fri 19th July We left Tamworth at around 12 noon and arrive at Tia falls (near Walcha) where made camp. We went for 1km walk to a lookout before it began to rain. We knew the rain was predicted but wanted to start our trial run anyway!

Photos – Our first time setting up for a real camp!

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Our campsite:


Sat 20th Woke to continued rain… We did rim the walk which was a 4.5km return trip. It rained on and off all day. In the afternoon we relaxed in our dry bed sleeping and reading. The wood provided at this location was not very good and lighting a fire without rain was hard enough!! So with the rain we had a rather pathetic fire which we didn’t really try to keep going after cooking over it.

Photo from the short walk lookout:


Photos from the rim walk:

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Happy campers 🙂


Sun 21st We left Tia Falls stopped at Apsley falls where we did a short walk before heading to Walcha. We had a delicious pizza at a little café there. Our plan was to go to Armidale that night but as we were travelling towards Armidale through town we spotted a sign to buds mare campground and followed it. We had seen this place on the internet but couldn’t work out the access points for it so we were pretty excited and more than happy to change our plans. After all, no one was expecting us to be anywhere in particular and so, why not?? We got there just before dusk (about a 40m drive) only to find a sign saying “permit holders only beyond this point”. Figuring there would be a self serve permit station (like most NP camping sites now have) at the campsite we continued on. We hadn’t read anything on the internet about needing permits and there were no signs prior to this one. It was also a 4wd only track which added more excitement 🙂 We followed the road down the side of a hill. It was pretty steep going down, but also a drop off on one side and a very steep hill up the other! About half way down this single track hill we found a huge locked steel gate! After an awkward turn around, and words exchanged about our disappointment with NSW PWS for their lack of signage and information, we stopped at the more easily accessed campground at the top. There was a beautiful lookout up there from which you could see the whole valley. It turned out to be a nice camp and view was spectacular. We cooked a lamb roast and I (Rosalie) made pancake scones – my first ‘experimental cooking was a huge success!! We were also able to try out our camping shower pump-with great results! Happy clean campers 🙂

Budd’s Mare lookout

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Rosalie’s first experimental cooking!

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Trying out settings on the camera to show off our campsite. The bright light is our LED camping light bar.



Mon 22nd We left late in the morning and travelled to Armidale where we called in on our friends Anna and Nathan Smith. Only Anna and Jesse (our Godson) were home but it was lovely to catch up with them. We also went shopping for some things we’d either run out of or hadn’t packed, and then went to the caravan park to set up for our trial there. We were joined by Anna and the kids (Zara, Isaac and Jesse) after school and we all spent time watching sunset from a platform there. Simon had fun chasing the kids, and we got caught up chatting to a friendly traveller from Canberra! We cooked dinner at the caravan park and then Nathan picked us up and took us to their house for a cuppa and desert. It was great to catch up after trying for several months to work something out!

Tues 23rd Simon awoke to icy cold drips on his forehead, and upon opening the window, discovered a blanket of white covered everything! -3’C we later discovered! We packed up tent in the freezing cold, caught up with Anna’s mother (owners of the caravan park) then headed to Gara Gorge with Anna and Jesse. We did a 5 km walk and enjoyed time with Jesse. Anna took us back to town and dropped us off back at our car, we refuelled then heaed for Wollomombi falls. We were unsure where we would camp as there was a paid site and a free site to choose from. The free sight was a bit further away. The information we had from the internet told us it would be $30/night at the paid place and after our experience with the wood at Tia Falls we decided to check it out and see what you got for your money. We discovered that yet again our information was incorrect and it was only $6/night. Happy enough with that, we went straight to a campsite and removed the camper. We’d decided we would spend a few days here and drive around to other walking tracks nearby. As Simon was moving out from underneath the camper he tried to turn the car off but the starter was engaged!! I didn’t know what was going on, (the car just kept trying to go, like when you turn it on with the car in gear, only the key was no longer in the ignition!!) but Simon raced to pull the battery terminal off! I invited 2 swedish tourists who had broken our $20 note (so we could pay for our stay at the self serve permit station) to our campsite for dessert around our fire and we enjoyed apple pies and the sighting of 2 very friendly possums, who licked the (now cold) hotplate clean for us. Within 2m of us! It was an enjoyable night for all 🙂 they appreciated the fire and company.

In Armidale – cold morning!


The toolbox right outside the tent window!!


Gara Gorge

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Wollomombi Falls – possums

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Wed 24th We took a short walk to the edge of the gorge 100m from our campsite through the scrub. It was another amazing view! Upon our return to our campsite we saw a lyre bird hanging around. Later, we walked to the platform at Edgars lookout. Simon removed the starter motor and inspected it but could find nothing wrong. We had lunch and then I did a trial run of hand washing clothes! In the afternoon we drove to Wollomombi falls lookout, drove to Hillgrove SW and had a look around town, drove out to Chandlers lookout and walked to the lookout, and then drove on to Bakers Creek Falls lookout. Rosalie (recently interested in geocaching) found her first geocache under the viewing platform 🙂

The view from near our campsite:


The lyre bird:


Bakers Creek Falls:


Rosalie’s first Geocache find:


Thurs 25th We drove to Point Lookout at New England National Park. It was very cloudy at the lookout 😦 We did the eagles nest walk (2.2km) then drove back to our Wollomombi campsite via wattle flat campground in Styx River National Park. On our way we saw two echidnas who weren’t shy. Simon managed to take several good photos of them and got really close!  We returned to our camp then found another geocache near the falls lookout.

Eagles Nest Lookout


Along the walk

Styx River NP



Fri 26th We packed up camp, which of course took longer than anticipated, drove to Dorrigo and stopped at the rainforest centre where wedid skywalk, and a 6.6km loop in the rainforest. We saw a variety of plants and animals including scrub turkeys and very pretty waterfalls. We continued east through Bellingen to Nambucca heads where we arrived at Trent and Katie’s shortly after nightfall. We missed a turn on the way and the alternative route took us up a hill that required 1st Low gear! Provided much laughter for the next several days! W ate a delicious Thai takeaway and Simon watched a movie with Trent- Faster? Rosalie just crashed in bed!!


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Sat 27th We had a lovely cooked breakfast on the bbq (thanks Simon!) then drove to the breakwater and walked along the water, admiring the art painted on the rocks, Simon and Trent climbed a nearby headland and then we all stopped for an iced coffee at a nearby café. From there we drove to the arboretum and searched for (and found!) another geocache in a rotten log near a natural spring. Then we went back to Trent and Katie’s place before Katie’s parents arrived and they all headed off to inspect a property. We left after them and headed for Tuncurry, Rosalie called and surprised Phillipa by asking could we join them for dinner at the bowling club! Arrived around 6. Stayed inside that night.

Nambucca Heads


Simon and Trent couldn’t resist climbing this:



Sun 28th Slept in!!! We got packed up again, drove to Aldi to do a big shop, grabbed some lunch and set off to make camp at the ruins campground, Booti Booti national park. Unfortunately we discovered they were very overrated pricey facilities so decided against staying there. (another disappointment – Thanks NSWPWS!!) We were unsuccessful at nearby campgrounds so we went to the information centre. They recommended a reasonable campsite at Wallingat National Park. We got there late afternoon, to find a peaceful location beside the river-part of the lake system of the area, and set up (well, almost!) before Ross and Philippa arrived for a brief afternoon tea to see the camper opened up. Darkness fell, they departed and we hurriedly changed then flew (as fast as you can in a 2.8L Hilux…) to town for the 6pm service at Coast evangelical church where my cousin Megan is currently doing MTS, We only arrived half an hr late but walked in as they were having a supper break before the sermon. Good message on Joseph and likening to the Angelina effect, bringing God ‘s ultimate plan and control into the spotlight. It was great to catch up with Megan after the service 🙂 We quickly grabbed some McDonalds for dinner and headed back to Mum and Dad’s to eat. By the time we got back to our camp we were well and truly ready to hit the sack!

Mon 29th We awoke to a tranquil scene as Simon unzipped to window at out heads of the calm river lit by sunlight and birds doing their thing.  After brekkie we went back into town to buy more odds and ends and caught up with Mum between jobs. We also got Dad’s advice on fishing rods at the local tackle store and purchased some. Ross knotted our lines with hooks and sinkers-showing us what to do and giving us the basics so we had some spare parts 🙂 We headed home after purchasing bait and tried to use them in the river but it was too dark so we gave up. After dinner agreed on a day of nothing for the next day. We also noticed yet another friendly possum creeping about camp!

Tues 30th Simon tried some fishing with no success, while I read for a bit. Simon cleaned the hilux out and we went for a 4×4 around the forest on some fairly overgrown tracks, a few bog holes and hill climbs later he was satisfied! He grabbed some firewood off the side of the track and as we drove back to camp we saw a spotted quoll run across the track in front of us!! Roast lamb for dinner. Great fire at this location 🙂


Wed 31st We woke up to rain early in the morning and decided it would be a good day for a day trip to Seal Rocks. It was very windy at the lighthouse! We had to hold on tight 🙂 On our way there we did some more 4wding and even had a chance to try out the winch on a sandy hill (see photos below).

Wet campsite:



A goanna that spent a lot of time at our campsite: We nick-named it Spanna.


On the way to Seal Rocks:



At Seal Rocks



Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of our time with Mum and Dad!! But anyway, we spent a couple of days with Dad before making our way back to Tamworth. We did some fishing and some nothing. Mum already had plans which took her out of town. It was good to be able to show off the camper to them in real life (other than that they’d only seen photos!).

Due to the difficulties I’ve had loading photos into this post I will catch up on the next few posts without photos. I will add the photos at a later date when we have better internet access. Thanks for hanging in there and making it to the end of this post!

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Final preparations, packing and departure!

Yes, for those who haven’t caught up on the news, we are finally on our trip!! Here are some photos of our progress as we prepared to leave…

One of the side doors being worked on

One of the side doors being worked on

Another trial pack

Another trial pack – the green spacecases are our clothes containers. Food containers underneath. Fridge on the slide. Kitchen above it.

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Front and back of one of the doors

Front and back of one of the doors

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Yes - it all fits together!

Yes – it all fits together! – And it fits on the ute!!!

With the tent and toolbox on top

With the tent and toolbox on top

the inside :)

the inside 🙂

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Undercoating the camper

Undercoating the camper

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We had to move it inside when we had a week of rain right at the critical painting time! Took us longer than planned, but why should painting be any different to the other aspects of the trip? EVERYTHING took so much longer than planned!!

We had to move it inside when we had a week of rain right at the critical painting time! Took us longer than planned, but why should painting be any different to the other aspects of the trip? EVERYTHING took so much longer than planned!!

Back outside again for the final coat

Back outside again for the final coat

putting the seals on to prevent moisture and dust getting insite

putting the seals on to prevent moisture and dust getting inside

Almost done!

Almost done!

Simon's parents helped us out again on their way back home. We were very disappointed that we weren't able to holiday with them at all!

Simon’s parents helped us out again on their way back home. We were very disappointed that we weren’t able to holiday with them at all!

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Installing gas struts

Installing gas struts

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And then we were done!!

And then we were done!!

4 months of hard work (Simon’s), frustrations, disappointments, tears (Rosalie’s) and we were finally ready to trial the camper. More on that in the next post!

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Updates are coming!!

I have 5 updates on the go and another in my head… We left for our trip just over 5 weeks ago. We’re currently working on a property in SW Qld and have limited access to the internet on a computer in the workers’ kitchen. I am working on sorting photos to put on a memory stick to bring over to insert into the posts. All is going well though! Stand by for more details 🙂

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8K’s in 8 weeks!

Well, this post is long overdue. We are now at Heather and Kevin’s place (sister and brother in law) at Nemingha, which is about 8km from our place in East Tamworth. We moved out of our flat 8 weeks ago tomorrow…

I’ve been putting off writing this hoping to announce that we finally have a departure date, but sadly we still do not have one!

Instead, I will put up some photos and descriptions of what’s been going on since I last wrote. Be warned there are lots of photos so maybe before you start reading you should grab a tea/coffee/hot milo/cold coke/whatever takes your fancy and enjoy the viewing 🙂

First of all, moving out of the flat took a lot longer than we thought it would. The main reason for this was finishing off the painting and other renovations! We are extremely happy with the final product 🙂


Our wedding photos finally made it onto the wall about 2 months before we moved out…


The “photo board” where tenants can put whatever they want onto the wall, and our air con and blinds (lounge room)


Freshly painted bathroom cupboard and looking out to the bedroom doors


Painted wardrobe in bedroom 2 with door open


Bedroom 2 with door closed


Freshly painted cupboards in Bedroom 1 with door open


Bedroom 1 with door closed


Looking to the bedrooms and bathroom and TV wall mount (photo board behind). Also note the “stupid window” which has the kitchen on the other side.


close up of the stupid window (which looks not quite so bad with a painted frame!)


Painted laundry and new tiles around the sink – Simon’s first tiling attempt! The large tiles are left over from the kitchen


Close up of the tiling 🙂


Laundry from a different angle


The kitchen looking into the laundry and you can also see the other side of the ‘stupid window’


The shelf in the kitchen I’d wanted since we had the kitchen redone. It was finally put in a couple of weeks after we moved out! We did paint the bit between the tiles and the shelf but I can’t find a photo of it completed – although I was sure I took one!


The kitchen (and shelf) from further back

After we moved out of the flat it was time to get cracking on construction of the canopy/camper which will go on the back of the ute. The whole process has taken way longer than we could possibly have imagined. We also continued to fill the container with stuff from the flat that was taken to Heather and Kevin’s place (where we are staying until we leave) for sorting and packing “at a later date” just to get it out of the flat!

Here are some more photos of the progress so far…


The arrival of the kitchen!


Unpacking the kitchen






kitchen with flip out bench



Starting to fill the kitchen drawer 🙂

We decided to do a rough trial of fitting our stuff into the frame to make sure we would be ok! It’s all well and good to measure things and think they will fit… so we pulled the frame out and used ropes to ‘secure’ things roughly where they will go in the canopy.


This is some of our stuff piled up waiting…


well at least the fridge will fit!


fridge and kitchen on the left, our space cases (clothes/personal belongings – one case each!) hanging on the right. This is looking from behind.


Some more things in under the space cases and looking from the front (the bit sticking out towards the camera is the roof rack)


Can’t leave out the portaloo!! Front right 🙂


Looking from driver’s side the crates underneath are for our cooking stuff, food etc. There is also a space on the right of the space cases in this photo where the water container will be. Photo of that later


From the front (this is what will be up against the cab). The sides of the tent and portaloo can be seen on the right.


From the back. Camping chairs, kitchen, fridge, solar panels down the side, (not sure where the flippers will fit), ground sheet, tent poles, awning sides down the middle, space cases and other equipment on the left


the passenger side – side tent, shower tent, camp chairs, kitchen, solar panels with fridge hiding behind.

Some other photos I’ve taken along the way…


trial run of packing my space case to work out how much I could take and what else needed to get packed away for storage.


Simon working on the frame – the roof rack is complete!


the legs Simon made that will hold the camper/canopy up when we want to just take the ute somewhere and don’t want to pack everything up!


The car looked like this for quite a while as Simon was doing some mechanical work/enhancements including the installation of diff lockers.


The stand appears to be mocking us! So rude of it to smile all day while things were taking so long!


Simon had a pretty good set-up for working on it all though.


Although he did need to set up a makeshift cubby house when it was raining for a few days!

Canopy/camper progress


The floor is in!


The back wall (which will be up against the cab) is in!

As you know, we were planning to do some travelling with Simon’s parents and his sister Julia. They took leave and we weren’t ready! It was lovely to have them stay with us (at Heather and Kevin’s place!) for 2 weeks. They (Simon’s mum and Julia) helped us out with moving a lot of my stuff that’s been stored in a shed there for years into the shipping container, and Simon’s dad also helped Simon out heaps with the construction of our set up. Unfortunately they are down to only about 3 1/2 weeks left of their holidays but we are still hoping to do SOMETHING adventurous with them before they have to go back to work! Where and when is yet to be decided…


Simon working with his dad. You can also see our super bright LED camping lights! We have 4 bars like this 🙂


The partially completed doors for the camper


Checking that the roof top tent and space case we bought as a tool box (to carry the chainsaw, legs for the camper etc) would fit on top – yay! They did! There is no mattress in the tent at the moment because we are sleeping on it inside.


The frame of a door on the side of the main frame.


The same door frame from the other side

Some photos of filling up the container… (it seems I’m missing all the ‘in between’ ones!!)


Just getting started


The well-worn path 1


The well-worn path 2


The well-worn path 3


It’s nearly full!


My bike hoisted up out of the way


Simon’s bike hoisted up out of the way

In other news, we are glad we decided to sleep on the tent mattress (that came with the tent) before we left on the trip. It is not comfortable by any standards! The first night was OK but the second was not… and the third and fourth just kept getting worse! There was also the issue of the mattress not being a standard size which meant trying to work out an option for sheets, blankets etc. In the end, we decided to get a memory foam mattress topper. The double topper is the same width as the tent mattress, even though it is about 40cm too short. That’s not a problem for me though!! Simon’s feet hang over the end of it but that doesn’t bother him. Because double sheets are designed to go over deeper mattresses, the double top sheet is long enough to go over both mattresses. It also turns out that a King size doona placed sideways fits perfectly as well! So we bought new sheets, a doona and cover specifically for camping (we haven’t been married long enough to have “old sheets” etc!! It’s working out pretty well so far 🙂

When Simon had finished installing the diff lockers, it conveniently rained 🙂 So we went and tested them out! Happy with the results and an excuse to go play for a while…

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After installing and testing the winch in the paddock, we discovered we needed 2 new batteries… Better here than somewhere in the middle of nowhere!


One day we decided to try out the tent on top of the camper and set up the awning as well. It will actually be oriented to fold out on the other side of the car. The side tent will come off the driver’s side and the awning will swing out from the passenger side. These photos should give you a bit of an idea of what it will look like when it is all set up though! Obviously we will only do the full set up when we are planning to stay for a few days at least! The awning also has walls that go the whole way around so it can be one big enclosed room as well.


Getting started (the ladder won’t be this vertical when we use it for real!)138


Zipping the room on


The room before pegging


Windows rolled up 🙂


Our new front door!


Showing how we can roll the side up to gain access to the vehicle. Our space cases will be accessible this way.


View from the “bedroom” looking into the top of the side room


Setting up the awning. As I said, it has walls as well which makes it quite a large room. Each pole going from the car out to the edge of the awning is about 2m. It’s hard to give the perspective of size in a photo


The side room all pegged out


And then we pulled it all down again…


All folded back up on top of the camper


And finally, zipping the cover back on.

Well, I hope this has given you a bit of an idea of what we’ve been up to and why we haven’t left yet. I’m sure there’s a lot more I could say, given that it’s nearly 2 months since my last update, but really in the grand scheme of things it all seems so incidental…

I seem to say this at the end of every blog, but I honestly do hope to be a lot more regular with my updates!

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Getting up to date

Firstly, let me apologise for the fact that I have no photos to put in this post!

I just thought I would write one more post to get everyone up to date…

At the moment we are in the process of moving out of our flat and into my sister’s place where we will stay until we are ready to go. Hopefully that isn’t too far away now!

We have accumulated quite a lot of our required supplies  but there are still some to come. Obviously, the vehicle is the biggest one! We were really happy with what we got. Mechanically, it is great (just ask Simon!). It has a brand new engine, new tyres, low km and was the right price. We have the fridge, Simon is working on the canopy (we have removed the fibreglass one seen in the photo in a previous post) which will become our storage section and provide the base for our rooftop tent to be mounted on. The tent has been ordered but is yet to be seen. We’ve also ordered the diff lockers but for some reason only one was sent. We’ve been waiting a few weeks for the second one to turn up! Simon has already redone the suspension, installed a radio (HF) that we were given second-hand which unfortunately didn’t work (we are still deciding if we will buy one), the kitchen is still to be ordered (waiting to see what will fit after the fridge is installed) and lots of other things are progressing. Oh! And we got some hiking boots for Simon yesterday on sale 🙂 Always love a bargain!

Our shipping container is slowly filling up and we are glad we went for the 40ft instead of the 20ft one! It is located in Heather and Kevin’s paddock out of the way.

All in all, we are happy with the progress and hopefully the items we are still waiting for will turn up in a timely manner and we will be able to get underway within the next couple of weeks! My final date turning out with Fire & Rescue NSW is 26th April (Leave starts 27th).

I would like to think my updates from now on will be a little more ‘current’ rather than a few months after the fact, and that I will have some photos to add to keep them interesting! Hang in there with me – they can only get better!

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Collecting the car from Sydney!

I’ve just realised I left out the whole story about collecting the car we’d left in Sydney!

As mentioned in the post Search for the perfect ‘holiday vehicle’, we left a car in Sydney when we went to buy the hilux in Adelaide. We returned to Tamworth on a Friday afternoon. That Sunday (yes, only a day at home in between!) we again hit the road to go and collect our car. We got up at 4am, drove to Scone (nearly 1.5 hours), caught a train at 6:30am to Sydney, arriving around lunch time and then collected our car. While there we were able to call in and visit some friends who had a 2 week old baby 🙂 That evening we drove the 6 hours home again via Scone to pick up the vehicle we’d taken there. I was pretty keen to not get in the car again for a while!!!

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