Monday, January 26, 2015

The Silly Season is Over

For the last few years we have missed the majority of the pre-silly-season by being away somewhere incredible, but this year we eagerly awaited the 15th December - in a caravan park for the move into our new home.

We awoke very early that morning and were extremely keen to finally have a home again, it was a great day with the Vision team providing us with a lovely breakfast followed by a bike ride and then lots and lots of lovely gifts.  We had arrived, and we were now keen to unpack as quickly as possible, so we could prepare for Christmas.  It was a hectic week though with Vision taking us out to dinner, a street Christmas party and generally an air of excitement from everyone.

After not having a home for so long, it was just so fantastic to have the new home completed and to be moving in before Christmas.  It was such a great way to end the year and make the new house into our new home - having everyone here, cooking up meals, preparing Julies Yummy Corner, getting the Christmas decorations out and up again (finding them new homes for the years celebrations), makes that new house into the new home even if it was all a little hectic. 

I love my Christmas, and I love having everyone over for 48 hours or so and each year I am so thankful that we are once again lucky enough to have everyone here - even if after they go I give a sigh of relief - to me this s what life is about, being with the ones you love and the ones that make a difference in your life. 

So far we are loving it, and when the estate (or community as it's called) is finished, we will really be in a fantastic environment to enjoy all the great things of living on the Gold Coast Broadwater, with our own marina, boats, pavilions, pools etc - these are not yet constructed and that's what comes from being a trail blazer and buying off the plan and being the first in - but we have not been forgotten and for 12 months we have been given membership to Sanctuary Cove Country Club so we can use similar type facilities.

We have been here 6 weeks now and the time has gone so fast, with unpacking, continuing to buy new furniture, repack things again and again just to ensure its all in the right spot for the long term, parties, boating, catching up with friends, off to the tennis, Australia Day,  I feel exhausted but the silly season is now officially over and everyone has gone back to school, so we can go back to going places and doing things we avoid during the peak holiday season, so I hope we are now able to get into some sort of routine again, because this has been hard over the last 6 weeks with the heat, the wet, the move, the events, the unpacking etc  so today we get back on track - the new house is now a home, things are where they should be, and I am getting back into a routine of paying bills, checking the mail - all the things we didn't need to do for 6 months - so they came hard in the first few weeks.

Teddy is really enjoying it as well, he has a few girl friends in the estate, and he loves to go for a walk and say hello to everyone morning and night - for a dog that you couldn't get to go walkies, now that's all he wants to do, so he is becoming more social as well and that is important for us.

What will 2015 bring, we have no plans so far - unusual for us however right now I have another 11 months to work it out and today we begin that journey.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dereks Metal Detecting Finds 2014

So I have tried in my blogs to show the photos of Dereks Finds - but thought I would do one small blog with all the photos he got.

Now we all know he loves his metal detecting and this year with a new pin pointer has made his finds significantly more and easier to come by, he had a great time while we traveled around Australia detecting, and to be honest must have found at least $2000 on the way - it was a significant contributor to laundry money and meals out.

On our return he has been busy around the Gold Coast as well and again is doing so much better now than he use to as he really works out the best areas to detect as well as using all his new tools of the trade.

He is now in the throws of polishing all his bits and pieces up and making a collection in his garage cupboard.

While probably not a photo of absolutely everything he has found this year, its not a bad collection of photos and worthy of its own blog

This is Australia - As a Grey Nomand: Part 14: Homeward Bound - The final Chapter

 We are sad as we know we are heading back – all good things must come to an end, and for the first time in the trip we will be doubling over places we have been through on the front end of the trip.  So now we leave Kings Canyon to Alice Springs – A Town Like Alice.  We got in quite early and spent the day checking it out, nice enough, but not enough for us to want to stay for any real length of time so off we go and begin the trek through Tennant Creek and Barkley Station heading for Cammoweal where we stop for the night after a big drive.

It is instantly noticeable the difference in the road as you hit Queensland again, no longer are the roads wide, well maintained and its sad to think our home State seems to have the worst roads, and the most agro of truck drivers, we have travelled now thousands of kilometres without any issues, but you hit Queensland and the driving is hard.  While we had to go through Mt Isa and Cloncurry again, we decided to take another route home so we were not going over too much of the same territory again.  We took the Julia Creek turn off to head to Hughenden which is a nice town, the heat is instantly noticeable – we didn’t do the dinosaur museums here, but if you missed out in Winton this would be another good place to see them.  We were pretty tired after a few days of big driving so took a cabin here and it was lovely, in fact the caravan park was really nice and we enjoyed it here recuperating.

Now off to Charters Towers where we had a lovely few days, and while CT is and was a major Gold centre, there is no public fossicking here and to be honest, no one wants to answer the question when you ask if there are any around, we would have loved to have done some here, but it is a lovely town, pretty up market, nice shops and good tourist walks, shops etc.

I am probably not as upbeat now, we feel like we are nearing the end and of course the Queensland country side is just so plain after WA, SA and NT, and while they are dry and baron as well Queensland just doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it – maybe its just us now.

After Charters Towers, we head to Emerald where we thought we would get some fossicking in, Emerald is a big town and while it has all the services you need we didn’t feel it was the right place for us, so we headed to Sapphire.

We loved Sapphire, it really is a fantastic place it feels like you have gone back 100 years, but it is pretty, friendly, and quaint.  Wanting to know more about sapphire fossicking we took a tag along tour, which was fantastic, and we got the bug for this, we ended up buying our own willoboughby and took up the art of sapphire fossicking for a few weeks.  We loved our campsite here as well, and every day, horses, cows, camels, birds would walk past our site.  It’s a great place and while initially the others in the camp ground where a little standoffish, once they knew we were here for a while they helped us in our endeavours of finding sapphires (not to the extent where they would tell you good spots to go, but helping establish the quality etc of stones found).  Everyone was up early here and out doing their fossicking until about 2pm, then home for a shower – it is dirty work and then it was an afternoon of drinking and show and tell, we loved it here and this is a place we will probably go back to regularly – the end of August is a good time not too hot and definitely no cold weather.  I can now say I can dig a grave because there is a lot of digging to be done in the hunt for sapphires.

From Sapphire we went to Rockhampton for a few days, then onto Gladstone and Tannum Sands, which had a lovely caravan park on the beach and log fire pits which was nice, it’s a lovely little area.  Didn’t really do much here, and we I suppose we knew it was all coming to an end – had to get back for things that needed to be done.  Our last stop on the way home for good was Woodgate, a place we had never been to before and just outside of Childers and Gin Gin so not far from home in the scheme of things (we had not that long ago done a road trip to 1770 etc so didn’t want to go there again at this point).  If you live in Queensland and are looking for a perfect beach area then I would say Woodgate is it, very quiet town, beautiful waters and beach areas and just close enough for day trips to Bundaberg (which we did again, have not been there in years).  Our last week was spent soaking up the sun and relaxing – very nice.

So home it was as the September school holidays were about to start, so there would be kids everywhere as well as everything becoming more expensive.

The Travel Stats:

So how far did we go, how much did it cost?
·         We ended up driving 21,400 kilometers
·         Total Cost of the trip including everything was $17,461 (that is absolutely everything we spent money on - food, petrol, accommodation, smokes, tours, souvenirs) - but not the price of the camper - so about 80 cents per kilometer - not bad 
·         We were away for 14 weeks in total

We sold our camper on Gumtree on our return put it up one Friday night and it was sold for the price we wanted (not much less than what we paid for it) by Saturday morning with cash folding in our hands.  It was sad to say goodbye to the camper, but while we loved our trip, I didn’t see us using it much in the future – not that we wouldn't travel again but maybe in hindsight a Jayco poptop may have been more comfortable for us and perhaps allowed us to do a bit more free camping - we didn't want to free camp given generally the ground was rocky and we had a soft bottom floor.  We did however love the trip and we did enjoy our camper from In2Campers, and the back up service and help we got from Kylie and Troy from In2Campers was fantastic, we got a lot from this experience and using a camper trailer was a fantastic introduction without a large investment.  We found we could live on less with less and enjoy life in a totally new and unique way for us, we met lovely people and had a blast as well as we got to see this special country Australia in all its glory and for that I am very happy - we have so much here in our own back yard and it was a gift to be able to see and enjoy it.

I hope you enjoyed my blog about this trip it was great and loved every minute of it, it was a great way to fill in our time while we waited for our new home to be built - we moved in on the 15th December, it didn't cost any more than renting and we had a great time, saw the best of Australia and had a blast, would highly recommend it.

This is Australia - As a Grey Nomand: Part 13: Ayers Rock, The Olgas and Kings Canyon Northern Territory

Another big drive from Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock over 700km’s leaving South Australia and back into the beautiful Northern Territory roads, with open speed limits.  It was funny you went through towns where the signs said slow down to 130kms/hour – that meant we had to speed up 10ks/hour lol.

You drive for so long and don’t see a car, then you get to Erldunda which is a cross roads type place and all of a sudden there are tourist buses, camper vans, motor homes, tents everywhere, this is the place everyone stops before getting to Ayers Rock. We got a great camp site, and of course everyone is excited around you to see The Rock – and we had a look out right behind our site, so it was good to see the sun set here on our first night without needing to get in the car.

Now I have spoken on red dirt in WA, but let me tell you this is the reddest dirt and its everywhere so not for those who don’t like dirt – to be honest I am now use to it, and not quite so anal about it being in the tent thank God, otherwise I would have been driven nuts (so maybe it was a good thing we changed courses months ago).  One of the things I loved about this camp ground was it was the first in all our travels to date that had open fire pits, which was so great to sit around at night with a drink and tell yarns with others – we really enjoyed this every night.  Although it was crowded at this time of the year, the best nice days not too hot and nights while cool, not freezing, so there are people everywhere.

I Climbed Ayers Rock
The next morning we were refreshed and keen to get out and see this place, we bought our 3 day pass and Derek immediately headed off to do the climb (not for the faint hearted let me assure you), and not really appreciated but still allowed.  He made it though and I enjoyed trying – but thought better of it, and talking to all the other peahearts like me that were awaiting a love one to return with their tales of making it.

The view from the top of Ayers Rock

We spent the rest of the day doing the various walks around the base which was beautiful it really is magnificent.  We also went to the proper night viewing area for the sunset – took our drinks and nibbles for a sunset happy hour along with 1000 others, but we got there early and secured a beautiful spot .

Next day The Olgas, they are also just fantastic, and in fact look better I think from a distance than the Ayers Rock.  Another big day of walks, and it was very cold and windy here unlike the day before where it was hot, we are in jumpers and freezing, but the views are spectacular.

The town center here is lovely as well, nice cafes, restaurants, galleries, souvenir shops etc, and Derek also began doing some metal detecting in the camp site – he found heaps here, with all the groups coming in with their swags, lots of money and jewellery being lost – he quickly found $50 plus a few rings and a beautiful opal pendant, couldn’t stop he after that – he was gone for days – I didn’t mind it was nice to sit, relax, read under the views of the area, and there was always someone to talk to as well.

After 5 days here, we finally decided it was time to head off to Kings Canyon – and WOW this is in my books even better than Ayers Rock – it’s a fabulous camp grounds with a 5 star resort and all the trimmings with it, in the middle of nowhere.

Climbing Kings Canyon is hard work though, something like 500 rock steps to get to the top – lots of huffing and puffing from us, but we made it – the rest of the walk isn't as arduous though and the views are to die for, magical in every way – such a lovely day walking up and through this area – make sure you take some water with you, at this time of the year they don’t police this so much, but apparently later in the season you are not even allowed to go up if you are not carrying enough water – it was hot up there. 

Our camp site with a view to Kings Canyon

What I loved about Kings Canyon is it isn't as restricted as Ayers Rock, you are encouraged to walk it, climb it, take it in so at the end of the day it feels like it is significantly more incredible than Ayers Rock as you truly get to experience it – there are good walking paths and steps throughout the entire area but it does take a full day.  For those who don’t have the energy or ability to climb, there are heaps of helicopter flights at reasonable prices (unlike at Ayers Rock), so I think generally people who experience King Canyon feel like its got a lot more to offer.

Once again Derek found heaps at the Kings Canyon camp grounds, in fact enough for us to have a beautiful meal at the resort all paid for in $1 and $2 coins hot off the camp ground (but I did wash them first, but it was funny counting it all out and them saying where did you get all of these from  and us laughing saying just outside).

Some of Dereks finds in Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon