Friday, August 16, 2013

2013 Caravan Trip

July 2013:

We left home on Thursday 11th July, north to the Great Eastern Highway, up Greenmount Hill and all points east.

We have several regular rest stops that, over the years, have come to represent progress points for our trip across the Nullarbor from Perth to the east.

The first is the big roadhouse at Tammin where we stop for lunch. We refuel at Southern Cross and our usual first overnight stop is at Koorarawalyee Rest Area in the Boorabbin National Park (WA238 in Camps 7). This is a large area with toilets and a dump point and, depending on the time of the year, we have a small camp fire.

Friday 12th July;

Next we refuel at the BP at Norseman and get onto the Eyre Highway with the compass showing E for the next few days. This trip we overnighted next at Baxter Rest Area (WA16 in Camps 7). There is a toilet and dump point at the entry to the rest area, unfortunately the dump point was unusable as it was blocked and overflowing, yuk.

Most people seem to prefer camping right at the front, almost at the edge of the highway but just 100m in behind the frontage there was a very large cleared area used by the workers who installed the toilets (there were still several big pipes lying on the ground, and a pile of blue metal). We went in there and enjoyed a huge thunderstorm during the night. Even though the rain bucketed down, the ground stayed hard and there wasn't any risk of getting bogged in the morning.

Saturday 13th July:

Continuing eastwards down Madura Pass onto the flats then up again at Eucla to refuel at Border Village. We are now in South Australia. We pushed through to Head of Bight. We had heard that there were quite a few whales here this time and that visitors are permitted to camp overnight just outside the gates to the Visitors' Centre. We got here about 6pm and setup for the night.

Sunday 14th July:

We drove down to the Visitors' Centre and parked up for a couple of hours. The setup here is really very good: timber ramps down to the cliffs and as a bonus to the spectacular scenery, there were dozens of whales in the water including a few mums and calves.

Here is the Visitors' Centre and car park. The overnight parking is a few kilometres back towards the Highway.

We only spent a couple of hours here because our main aim was to get out of the cold weather. Each night and morning our diesel heater was being given a real workout. We set it to come on about 6:30am, after 20 minutes or so I get out of bed and turn on the hot water system and get back in until the water is hot. Then it's breakfast, showers, tidy up and get on the road again.

We stopped at a small daytime rest area in Penong for lunch and got a phone call from some friends we intended to meet quite a bit further east but they were stuck in Ceduna with a vehicle problem. We caught up with them for 30 minutes or so and then continued on our way.

In Ceduna, the BP servo is another of our progress points on our way east.

We had intended going out to Pildappa Rocks for the night, but it was getting late and it had been raining, so we stopped at the little town of Wirulla and, for a small fee, plugged into a power point in their small park (SA 565 in Camps 7). They have a sign outside town saying we welcome visitors, and they do too. This was a handy stop and we watched some footy on the sat TV before snuggling up for the night.

Monday 15th July:

We refuelled at the BP in Port Augusta. This is another of our Progress Points and when we leave Port Augusta we feel that we have crossed half the country.

Up the hill to Wilmington and Peterborough, we overnighted at the Rest Area in the small town of Yunta (SA209 in Camps 7). This is a good rest area and Yunta also has a BP servo with excellent access for vans.

Tuesday 16th July:

Into NSW, we usually call in on friends in Broken Hill, but this time it was straight through in our quest for warmer temperatures (apologies to Dave and Nora). We stopped for lunch at the Spring Hill Rest Area on the Barrier Highway (NSW905 in Camps 7) and spoke to some Bushtracker owners there, from South Australia.

We always refuel at the BP in Wilcannia, always friendly service there.

Our overnight stop tonight was at Meadow Glen Rest Area (NSW891 in Camps 7), 63 kms west of Cobar.

As usual, the nicest spots are down the back. We were entertained by a very large flock of Apostle birds, also called Happy Jacks. They are like a really big chatty family.

Wednesday 17th July:

On the road again, we refuelled at the BP in Nyngan then drove through Warren and Coonamble to Walgett. Once again we stayed at the Alex Trevallion Park Rest Area (NSW370 in Camps 7) just outside Walgett. This time it was packed. I helped an older couple reverse in near us as they were circling a couple of times looking worried that space was running out.

July 18th to 20th:

We enjoyed a very pleasant couple of days in the Opal caravan park in Lightning Ridge with Bob and Laurel Clarke, friends, and Bushtracker owners, from Sydney.

While we were there, a big group of classic Pioneer Coaches, converted to motorhomes, came in. Aren't they great!!

We left Lightning Ridge and entered QLD at Hebel. Then drove via Dirranbandi to St George where we spent a couple of days.
Tuesday 23rd July:
We had intended staying overnight at Surat but it was still cold so we turned east just before Surat and drove through Glenmorgan and Tara to Dalby. Then via Kaimkillenbun and Wutul to Cooyar. Here we stayed overnight at the Swinging Bridge Park Rest Area (QLD460 in Camps 7).

This is a very nice, popular spot and, once again, we found some good places down the back.

July 24th, 25th, 26th:

We drove down the hill through Blackbutt and Kilcoy to Caboolture and parked up in the Showgrounds for 3 nights.

Since our last visit here in 2011 a beautiful equestrian pavilion has been built at the northern end.

While here I went to Trade Tools in Caboolture to buy a few essentials. What a treasure trove that place is, I could have bought up big but exercised some rare restraint.

We also visited Made to Measure Mattresses ( ) and ordered an innerspring mattress with a latex top. Our compressed foam mattress is now really compressed, and we are getting aching hips. We will get this in Mooloolaba on our southbound, homeward trip.

Saturday 27th July:

We continued north and turned inland at Gympie to take the Burnett Highway through Kilkivan to Gayndah where we stayed overnight at the Showgrounds. This was a nice spot and a nice town.

Sunday 28th July:

Driving leisurely north along the Burnett Highway through Eidsvold to Mulgildie. The pub at Mulgildie (QLD430 in Camps 7) offers free overnight camping on their grounds and all they expect in return is for us to buy a beer or three and maybe have a meal. Tonight was pizza night so it was not very difficult to comply.

Monday 29th July:

Further north along the Burnett Highway we stopped at Dululu Rest Area (QLD419 in Camps 7). We turned up at 1pm and it was virtually empty. By nightfall it was chockers.

Tuesday 30th July:

From Dululu we drove north to the Capricorn Highway then east into Rockhampton.

North out of Rockhampton on the Bruce Highway, we have previously stayed at St Lawrence (QLD87 in Camps 7). It's very nice but we wanted to try different places on this trip so we drove on to Clairview (QLD85 in Camps 7). We arrived when the tide was way out and set up camp. Through the afternoon the tide came in and eventually was lapping the beach right in front of our van.


We enjoyed a campfire that night. Life is good.