July 9th - 15th Aug 2010
see www.alchester.com.au/absoutback.htm for outback communication link details and how we use collaborative 3G to stay in touch when on the road
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we'd like to mention a couple of important supporters of this journey, and the great company of fellow travellers:
Rod and Sue Holloway from Townsville,
travelling with Betty and Gary Pope.

Query us on mailto:gaz@alchester.com.au

Anyway:......  Where's The Basin?
Alchester Village Meat Supply - Stan, Carolyn, Tim Coates  and the team for their Award Winning meats- 'the best' in Victoria!  Check the awards. (on page 2)
Andrew Gallop and his team - Hardings Caravan Services for servicing/support of caravan and towing equipment. (Hardings Newsletter)
Digitech Corporation - Michael Pope for technical assistance with the original  ABSoutback(1)  mobile intenet communications setup/support. Digitech Services

TekSupport Pty Ltd - Unix firewall, VPN server and internet technical support specialists.  refer to  Rob, Maureen and the team for ADSL/Internet/Security related technologies. (Suppliers to Alchester)
Panther/Soterion - George Linardos for technical advice on low wattage portable lighting. check the Fire Fly torches!

Pirahna - for unfailing advice on matters of UPS and pure sign Power Inverter equipment for automotive use. Contact them for 4WD accessories
Hillview Motors & Tyres
- Ian Hendrick for all mechanical, tyres & personal service.
Cnr Mountain Hwy & Forest Rd, The Basin  Ph: 9762 7017
Summary of trip.
Sorento 2007  2.5 auto  5sp 4 cyl Diesel 4WD; 1300kg Gazal Poptop Van

See a complete list of

(LAST TRIP: Katoomba)

**This website is best viewed with Mozilla Firefox web browser.......
Distance and time:
8.664   kms
in 35 days.
(Statistics to be advised upon completion)
Fuel used:

1133 litres of diesel
fuel prices:
from  $1.25.9  to $1.55.9 (Diesel)
Worst seen:  $1.63.9 Belyando Crossing
$ 1.55.9 Chillagoe,   $1.42.9  Injune
Best prices:  $1.25.9   Lavington (Albury),  Cardwell,    Glass House Mountains(less any discounts).
NOTE: Questionable performance degradation running on 2% bio-diesel mixtures.   -  SO NEVER USE IT!!!
Performance statement:  

Av  12.67 lt/100kms  (88 % towing)
best (75% towing out of the hills at  90-100km/h):   10.86lt/100 on cruise
Worst: (towing at  high speed, and into head wind) 15.59.lt/100

This compares to the best we've ever achieved, a couple of years back:
on Cruise control (NO CARAVAN) along the Hamilton Highwy (1/9/08:   773kms on 69L.)   being    8.9L/100kms

Testing: , Optus GSM, Telstra GSM, Telstra 3G, Telstra NEXT-G
CONCLUSION:  get a decen aerial in the 3G phone

Worst loss: Chillagoe area and outback areas between Charters Towers and Mount Surprise
But that was mainly due to poor 3G antenna on Sony Ericsson(since changed to HTC Desire upon return to Melbourne!)
Best 3G connection
Chillagoe using Sue's Flip Phone (Samsung !!)

Most significant COMMUNICATIONS observation:  

Examples of lost communications (with eak aerial on Sony/Ericsson:   
- others had 3G, but not the Sony Ericsson at Mt Surprise.
- no reception for radion, phone, TV at Carnarvon Gorge.
- no reception for phone in most stretches between towns, north of Roma to the top.


Trip Highlights


Most memorable events:

Capella Caravan Park and adjacent Peat Downes Historical Museum!
Walk-in mine at Lightning Ridge near Lunatic Hill
-  Surviving 17km walk thru Carnarvon Gorge
- Saphire Walk-in mine at Rubyvale
-Catching Sue on her birthday at Mt Surprise, and ports with Rod around 1st campfire,
-Town of 1770 and travelling the sand tracks south the Wreck Rock
- Glass House Mountains scenery and up to Montville along the ridge
- Esk after travelling surrounding area of Somerset Dam
- Gympie and Maryborough.   (History of towns,  and Woodworks)

Trip hazard Issues experienced:  (really minor!)

- assisting John who rolled his car in Lonesome Valley (Injune)
- Two caravanners experiencing failures in their 100 series Landcruisers
- Running low on Deisel at West Wyalong

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Fri 9th July. Day before leaving, we visited Australia's LONGEST BAR at the Middle Park Hotel, to officially measure the 46.81 meter long bar! Get the full story at G'day PUBS website entry:



Sat 10th July


Time to pull out of beauuuutiful downtown The Basin, and head on up to Tocumwal

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10th July (1) Melbourne to Naranderra via Tocumwal Ended up pushing thru to Naranderra, as it was raining heading out of Melbourne all day, and we reached Tocumwal earler than expected.
11th July (2) via Parkes to Dubbo Visited the DISH at Parkes - and got to see it rotate!. Onto Dubbo, and unfortunately stayed at the most expensive, and unmanaged big Park on the south side of town.  (Don't start me on boomgates and toilet cleaning schedules at 9AM!)  Maybe my day 3 grumpiness hit in on the 2nd day - all the better for tomorrow! 2010_07_11a_the_dish_at_parkes.jpg (52216 bytes)
12th July (3) Lightning Ridge Ah!   Top place, nice spot at the back of the Hotel/Caravan Park.  Went straight to see the John Murray art studio - he's brilliant, and down to get some opals at the Opal Cave, from Cheryl who we introduced to from good friends in the town last strip.  Back to the pub for 5PM happy our  and won the raffle prize - trip to undergrond mine we'd done before - so fellow campers got the ticket.  2010_07_12a_john_marray_lightning_ridge.jpg (50403 bytes)
13th July (4) via Surat but stayed at Roma. Early morning, leavikng Lightning Ridge, but went to  visit  the underground Walk-In mine out next to Lunatic Hill.  Very good tour indeed - but this made us late exiting the town.. At Surat, we just managed to reach there in time to see the Cobb and Co historical museum - great! 2010_07_13a_cobb_and_co_surat.jpg (50276 bytes)
14th July (5) Roma Betty talked me into a double night stay in Roma at the FPA- good idea, because we were getting a little tired behind the wheel.  This gave us a chance to sit around the lovely fireside right opposite the campsite (#15) and get to know the NZ manager:  Andrea - a top host, who enjoyed happy hour(s).   Then to see the BIG RIG display over the road showing the history of oil/gas exploation of the area 2010_07_14a_roma_fpa_park.jpg (55810 bytes) 2010_07_14b_roma_bottle_tree.jpg (62335 bytes)
15th July (6) Carnarvon Gorge (Nth Injune) Off to Carnaron Gorge for the night via Injune where the Tourist Info centre suggested we extend the rip via Acadia Valley and Lonesome Lookout.   Top area, despite some rough road at the end, but only added 1 hr to the trip.  But 40Km's in, a young chap rolled his car, so we tookhim back to Injune - he's OK.  Lost couple of hours in the transit - but didn't impact theoverall day.  Lonesome Valley lookout  steep, but great views!    Entry to Takarakka Eco Village would be interesting if the creek was flowing! 2010_07_15a_lonesome_valley_lookou_injune.jpg (50782 bytes) 2010_07_15b_takarakka_entry.jpg (70169 bytes)
16th July (7) Carnarvon Gorge Well - mission accomplished - did the 15 (really 17.5km) walk to the Art Gallery (not really our cup of tea - would skip that end bit)....  but Wards Gorge and the Ampitheatre and Moss Garden were great to see.  Brilliant park at Takarakka (4kms drive from the Gorge carpark).    40kms road into Takarakka from the main highway is a bit rough - but no big deal.  Simon the tour guide gave a tp briefing arond campfire night before. 2010_07_16a_carnarvon_gorge_start.jpg (75182 bytes) 2010_07_16a_carnarvon_gorge_top.jpg (79581 bytes)
17th July (8) Stayed at Capella just short of
Out from the Gorge via Springsure for lunch and onto Emerald (huge town, and very expensive - grog 30% dearer), so pushed on 50kms north to a lovely owner operated caravan park in Capella.  Loved it so much, stayed two nights.  
Highly recommended.  
Call owners: David & Jodie (07) 4984 9615
Capella Van Park
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18th July (9) Capella
(2nd night)
it was so good!
Visited the Capella Historical Museum at the end of the street from the Van Park.  Peat Downes district pioneer slab homestead superbly rebuilt, with a huge collection of 47 restored tractors, bulldozers and steam powered traction engines.   Great exploring for the morning.  Then in the arvo, drove 60kms out to Rubyvale to tour the walk-in Saphire mineand sport Betty a blue saphire pendant.  Nice little own, and full of fossickers. 2010_07_18a_peat_downes_homestead_capella.jpg (66148 bytes) 2010_07_18a_tractors_capella.jpg (64868 bytes)
19th July (10) then via Belyando Crossing to Charters Towers Set off to Charters Towers, and topped up with very reasonable diesel at Clermont at $133.9.  Top murals in Clermont, on the side of railway trucks.  Sure a better price than $163.5 at Belyando Crossing!    Not much to see up this stretch today, and the Clermont Museum was shut (Betty said good - she was still tractored out from yesterday!) 2010_07_19b_clermont.jpg (55945 bytes) 2010_07_19c_belyando_crossing.jpg (62496 bytes)
20th July (11) Charters Towers Having the two nights in Charters owers permitted us a top walk around the historical buildings of the Golden Square.  Some of the best maintained old buildings to be seen. 2010_07_20a_charters_towers_top_street.jpg (59298 bytes) 2010_07_20b_zara_clark_museum_charters_towers.jpg (60747 bytes)
21st July (12) Lynd Junction   (Oasis Roadhouse) to Mount Surprise. Australia's shortest bar! At the Oasis roadhouse Lynd Junction.  Yep:  It's a whole 1.2 meters long!    With some help from  the Publican's (Pauline) daughter, Carlie, we got the low down on this small bar at Lynd Junction.     Lots of road works, and 4-trailer road trains.  There were about 26 call points along the single lane road for 200kms.  Got into Mount Surprise by 4PM nicely timed to meet up with Rod and Sue our co-travellers from Townsville on Sue's birthday today (23rd ????).  At last, that port I've wanted to have with Rod around a fire!  Top night.

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22nd July (13)
Mount Surprise Rod and Betty took the bus trip 50kms down into the Undara Lava tubes to see the crater and three of the many tubes (some run 90 kms long!).    Top campsie at the Bedrock Caravan Park with hosts Jo and Joe who have built up a top park here, alongside the railway that the Savannahlander train runs right by.   The afternoon was spent browsing the town, and sleping on the railway museum chairs!  
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23rd July (14) Herberton Left Mt Surprise, out thru Mt Garnet to Herberton travelling thru thick fog along the way, as we headed over the Ravenshoe range.  We arrived at Herberton, and settled in to a really nice caravan park that offered great open fire BBQ facilities - just the place for finally getting stuck into a great slab of lamb cutlets Adam had packaged for us....  YUM!.   Then it was off to enjoy the Herberton Historical Village.  This is a huge accumulation of histoical local building fully furnished with displays.   You can spend hours there - it has something for everyone.  Cameras, phographs, newpaper equipment, sewing machines, blacksmith, carpenter, music tutor, school, general store, butcher, garage, axeman hall of fame...... even a transported PUB!  (The Pannikan Inn!)

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24th July (15) via Mareeba and out to  Chillagoe Set out from Herberton, to make our way up to Mareeba to take the better caravan road out to Chillagoe.    (The shortcut across from Herberton to Almaden is not recommended for towing.    This trip acorss some familiar territory past Atherton, Tolga and almost up to Mareeba was nice to see again.  We took the bypass thru Channel Rd country, and folowed the water channels to the Chillagoe Rd.  Then it was time to head off   thru Petford to Dimbulah, where we managed to run into the Savannahlander train stopping for lunch.  Then off to Chillagoe for the first night where we climbed the local communications tower hill to oversee the town..
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25th July (16) Chillagoe Local caravan park offered a great fire pit right next to the vans.   Hot days here at 33 degrees, so it was nice to hit a cool beer after dark!
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next day, it was off to the Royal Caves in Chillagoe

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Chillagoe - famous for Marble mining.

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26th July (17) back via Dimbulah to  Mareeba  to Lake Tinaroo headed out of Chillagoe, after a long afternoon meeting "Tom" who has a terrific Ford car and truck museum right next to the Chillagoe caravan park.   Tom has every Ford he's ever owned - not too keen on Holden's it seems.  Uick visit to the museum/visitors centre  at Dimbulah and into Mareeba for a Drive Thru Bakery fix. Gaz sporte himself a new green Akubra with a wide brim - nice!  Then off to tonight's camp out of Tolga, Kairi and into Lake Tineroo.2010_07_26a_mareeba_drive_thru_bakery_0981_sml.jpg (86043 bytes) Dimbulah Visitor Centre
on the Wheelbarrow Highway
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Lake Tineroo Cavaran Park - NICE!

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27th July (18) Lake Tinaroo
near Kairi
Spent the day skipping back on our tracks up towards Mareeba to see the biggest private military collection in QLD.  Then back to Tolga to see the woodworkers shop.
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Then late in the arvo, we drove via Peeramon in the hope of a beer - but alas - closed Tuesdays!   No worries, it was good to see the Pub surviving Cyclone Larry's impact a few years ago.   Took in a great round trip via Lake Eacham and Yungaburra (top butcher there still!)
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Mareeba - private Military Musuem
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Lake Eacham near Yungaburra
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Yep - that's all carved from wood!

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Toga Woodworks - workshop.
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Yungaburra - top butcher here!
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28th July (19) Cardwell After lack of beer previous day, but supplemented by copious port back at camp, it was a slow start out of Lake Tineroo to head out towards Cardwell for the next night.  As uusual, a top meal inthe van for the last night at Lake Tineroo!   Spoilt by good butchers ...... (again!)

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heading down from Lake Tineroo, off the tablelands, and via
Crawfords lookout, down to Innesfail then to Tully.

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harbour at Innesfail

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Tully - you have to admire how well the Sugar Mill contibutes to the economy!

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29th July (20) Cardwell Arrived in Cardwell, and discovered another faithful Kia Sorenot vanner - with an impressive unit in tow!

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Cardwell Pier
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Took a wander alonmg the foreshore of Cardwell.

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Took the Forest tourist drive around the outskirts of Cardwell,
and up to the lookout which lets you see out across
Hichinbrook Island and the channel.

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30th July (21) Cardwell to Bluewater definitely a hard place to leave:  CARDWELL. 
Beautiful views across the chaneel to Hichinbrook Island, great town, top amenities and a really nice Caravan Park on the beach.  But, time to leave, and head for Bluewater for thenight, right next o Rod and Sue's place in Yabulu. (30kms Nth Townsville).

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View from the caravan park in Cardwell, leaving early morning.
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Hitchinbrook channel, and view north.

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Time to have an obligatory photo at the Rollingstone Pub just short of te final part of the trip shared with Rod and Sue.


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Yeehaaa!  Gaz gives Rod's FJ40 a dusting!
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31st July (22) Bluewater (30km Nth Townsville) Time to spend a nice day in Tonsville with Rod and Sue,  and visit their two daughers nearby who are moving house, and renting another......   lots of house shifting going on! Take a run up to Castle Hill to see what's changed in Townsville, head out to see Ross dam, and then top off the day with a nice BBQ at Rod's home at Yabulu.
Rod's new 'shed' gets a test out too......
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Meantime,  Sue catches up on some serious Grandma work with Quinn and Ashlyn.

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Castle Hill overlooking Townsville
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Ross Dam
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Gary and Betty on The Strand, Townsvile

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Rod and Betty at new aquatic complex Ross River.
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with Mount Stuart in the background.....
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Rod and Sue's place for BBQ.   Top bar!   
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1st Aug (23) via Mackay to Sarina to stay at Koumala Headed off from Townsville, down the coast to scurry thru to 1770, checking out Mackay and Rochampton on the way thru.   First port of call was Bowen for lunch, and took a (car) hike up to the fantastic lookout just on the edge of town.

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Booking over-late at Sarina, so stayed in nice new camp at Koumala - tidy town 20km south Mackay
(YEP:  More gdaypubs photos!)
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Bucacia Beach - one of many on thenorthern outskirts of MacKay

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Black Beach north of Mackay, sunset.

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2nd Aug (24)
via Clearview, Marlborough to Rockhampton Up early from Koumala to high tail it down to Rockhampton.   Stumbled across Clairview, a small retirement styled township (no pub, no store).....   but nice area for people who like boating.   Then down thru Marlborough (not Maryborough yet!) with lots of great North Queensland pubs to photo......

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Rockhampton has some spectacular buildings.

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Rockhampton FPA caravan park right on the river and walking distance to the town over the Fitzroy River bridge.

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And with the camp ktchen right on the block!

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Fitzroy River on northern edge of Rockhampton city.
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3rd Aug (25) Rockhampton
Rockhampton, just as exciting and interesting as our last visit, is hard to leave......  and the target of seeing the Town of 1770 lays just ahead, ......    but strewth, its so nice here at Rocky......   let's stay another night! 

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So we spent the day toaking a day trip out  to visit the interesting
historical gold minig town of Mount Morgan.

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Back into Rocky again, and we spent the afternoon driving the city tour (historical site tour).    Many interesting buildings, railway station, cathedral, schools and the botantical gardens/lake/zoo.   All well worth the drive.
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4th Aug (26) via Gladstone, thru (East Miriam Vale) to   Town of 1770 Okay - now it is time to pack up and head further south.....  so off for a short run to have a good look around Gladstone on the way to Town of 1770.
But first,  Betty has to mail her daily post card back home!   Another postal job on the run!

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The day was spent looking all over Gladstone, then down an hour to Tannum Sands and Boyne Island. Then finally we got to 1770. via adjacent Agnes Waters which has the closest shops (6 kms).
Gladstone, a very busy industrial town and harbour,
also has a very nice marina and beach area too.  
Here's the marina, seen from the lookout
at the south end of the main street of the town.
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Barney Point beach, at Gladstone.

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The twin towns of Tannum Sands/Boyne Island - very nice.
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5th Aug (27) Town of 1770 Town of 1770 (or simply "1770") is where Captain Cook first stepped ashore Australia.    It is a small point with a protected inlet, and the caravan park and hospitality there is great.  Agnes Waters has petrol, 20 shops and a supermarket and pub, only 6kms away.   A top feature of 1770, is to grab an ale at "The Tree" (an actaul tree, and also the name of the adjacent tavern) and watch the sunset - it's spectacular!

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day trip to
Wreck Beach
South of Agnes Waters, there is a coastal sand road that treks down past Middle Rock, Flat Rock and on to Wreck Rock.   So we got the Kia into the sand and took off for the day......
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We returned late in the day, to catch the sunset from the monument of Captain Cook's landing point.
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Flat Rock,   1st stop along the coastal trip heading south.....
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Middle Rock (2nd stop), and nobody for mile around in any direction - BEAUTIFUL!!!

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and finally, to Wreck Rock.....  70 kms down the sand track....

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6th Aug (28) thru Burnett Heads to Hervey Bay Early start out of 1770, leaving their amphibious ducks behind and into Bundaberg to do the Rum Distillery tour.  Bit early for drinking, but sometimes you just have to make the effort! 

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Looks like the dry dock at Burnett River isn't short of a quid.......

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The Bundaberg Rum Distillery with 900,000,000 litres in stock for 2 years. 
That's 1.2 billion bottles with a retail value of $A42,000,000,000 !!!!

(yep,    that's billions, not millions!!)

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Of course - after that lot for breakfast, its definitely time to stock up on some good old Ginger Beer too!

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And now for something totally different.....  Burnett Heads lighthouse (relocated to the town park).
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Took in some time at picturesque  Elliott Heads and then trekked down to Childers to wlak the main street, filled with some great historical buildings.

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Childers has some grat building snad street sculptures.

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Backpackers Palace Hotel in Childers

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Arrived at Hervey Bay to stay right opposite the harbour for Fraser island

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7th Aug (29) thru Maryborough to Gympie Car carrier for Faser Island - right out the back of our park at Hervey Bay.
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Left Hervey Bay after a flat battery!  These drive-thru sites where we leave the car hitched up,  can be problem if ou accidentally flick the outside 12v light onthe caravan on all night.   It'd be okay, except if you forget to turn on the remote charger for the Kia!  Arrrrh!
  Then off to Maryborough to the historic walk thru the town. This was terrific!

Of course - must photo another Richmond Street!
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The coast 11kms north of Hervey Bay is spectacular.

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and so are their means of transport.....
Could this be a new rangie for Rod?????
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Then to visit the magnificent town of Maryborough, home to the creator of Mary Poppins:  P.L. Travers!

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Now you just can't go past the former Melbourne Hotel!
(now the Criterian Hotel in Maryborough)

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Just another example of the fine buildings dotted throughout Maryborough. 
The Post Office Hotel 1889.
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The Maryborough Heritage Centre

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Settled into the Gympie Caravan Park and then off to see the "Woodworks" histroical museum just north of the town.

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This Kauri tree was sliced 100 years ago, and is beleived to have been 619 years old at the time.
Display arena

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Time for tea (Gympie caravan Park - NICE!):
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8th Aug (30) thru Imbil to Maleny to Beerwah (Sth Landsborough)
and onto the

Glass House Mountains
Met up with Noel and her husband, Bob.....  nice couple from Bankstown, and travelling south a day after us.

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and had another top noche for meal in the van!

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meantime, next morning in Gympie, time to pull out.  But cop this great rig of Terry's!   This is a converted denning bus complete with bar, kitchn and upstairs alfresco dining.  And the trailer has a RAV4, quad bike and tinnie!  All up:  25 ton.
(PS:  Terry dropped the antenna a few feet later - all good!)
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meantime, over the back fence was a Horse riding gymkana event - very interesting.

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Time to head out thru Imbil to Amamoor where the Music Muster is taking place later in August.   This routefollows the railway track used by the Valley Rattler train.
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The Valley Rattler train (engine No 967 "Gympie")
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9th Aug (31) Glass House Mountains
andnearby Montville.
We won't mention the terrible place we stayed in Glass House Mountains.........     but the views of the hills and trips in surrounding towns more than made up for it.  The various volcanic oucrops are really something else, and the views along the ridge looking back to the coast make a brilliant sight.  Of special note in the area, is the township of Montville.

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travelling along the ridge from Berrwah up to Montville.

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And for Adam's sake, hre's a spot of history - the Big Pineapple and the Big Yum!  ust out of Nambour, on the trip off the ridge from Mapleton towards the coast and Bruce Highway.

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10th Aug (32) Carboolture  / Kilcoy to Esk Today, we headed out of the Glass House Mountains, to ESK.  The trip passed out to Kilcoy and south via the Somerset Dam.

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We left the caravan early at Esk, a top caravan park - very friendly.
The we headed into Brisbane for the day.
The weather was poor, otherwise we'd have travelled via the planned Mount Glorious and The Gap.  Instead we slipped down the motorway.

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The Botantical Gardens at north end of Brisbane.

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Lighthouse near Vulture St Brisbane.
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Riverside view of Brisbane

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11th Aug (33) via Towoomba, Goodiwindi to Moree Time to head for home, so we chose to travel via Towoomba which we'd never visited before, and across to the Newell.  A few phone calls and delays slowed us a little, and we aimed for Moree as the stop for the night, which was very nice indeed.  (Gwydir Caravan Park, boasting thermal pools)

First stop, Towoomba, after the big climb up to the top of the ridge.  Views are brilliant, and the town has a lot to offer.  The Visitor Centre would be the best we've seen.  Top Job!

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Travelling out of Queensland just before the border - it was clearly time for that last QLD beer.   Where else?  Goondiwindi's Victoria Hotel of course!
(Where they house the memorial to the famous race horse:  Gunsynd, winner of the Melbourne Cup )

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Must be time to catch up on this websie stuff some more!!!

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12th Aug (34) West Wyalong Okay, we;re on the home run now, so no point messing about.   Up early from Moree, and we were heading for Narrandera.......  but ended up at West Wyalong.

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Stayed at West Wyalong, after learning the hard way to keep deisel tanks fuller than 3.5litres!

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Maybe that's why we stopped at more often on the way back!
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Not really....   It's just that the food at the Big Shell out of Albury is really great when you're about to head off down the Hume for a while!
13th Aug (35)
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