Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 8- Gold Coast to Caboolture

Busy day today. Cindy and Robert and the girls came out for a massive feast of a breakfast. Lucky we started packing our things up last night cos we all got to chatting (and chatting...) and ended up getting away a bit behind schedule.

We drove out to Brendale (north Brissy) to get our new annexe fitted. Looks really jazzy! I have to say we were both really impressed with the service we got from The Awning Man. It's a family business and they are the kind of people that instantly make you feel like friends. Apart from fitting the walls for us they also fixed the awning that we never realised was not set up properly and gave it a service. I can't wait to get somewhere for a few days and set it up again and have a play. The kids are going to love it.

Just as we were heading back to the highway and planning to head to our national parks camp near Bribie we got a call from Mum and Dad. They were out at the campsite at Coochin Creek and even though we had booked online through the EPA the site was totally packed and the tiny van area was far too small for us to get our rig in there.... ?? In hindsight we probably should have turned back and camped in near Petrie but instead we decided to go to the Caboolture Showgrounds (another cheap camp listed in the Camps4) but when we got there it was wall-to-wall vans, no shade, and $20 a night for power... i figured a van park would only be $5 more for nice facilities. So a call to the tourist infomation centre and we got the address of the only van park in town.

First impressions were not great but we just wanted to set up and get the kids out of the car so it'll do. $25 a night but i think there might be a pool! (i really hope there is a pool! LOL!). It's on the river and there is a boat ramp but that sounds nicer than it is in reality. It's a really old park but Caboolture looks like it has a few things to do so it will probably be all good. Hard to compare it though with the Gold Coast park which was only $3 a night more.

Normally we'd just head on and find something nice but we have to be back in north Brissy to get our new mattresses on Monday and to catch up with some friends at Petrie so there was no point going too far out of town. Not sure what to do with the booking we paid for online for Coochins??? so i take back my comments about it being a handy website. I think next time we'll go to the campsite first before booking. We should probably also keep in mind that trying to get a spot at a nice national park camp over the weekend is not a good idea.

After setting up we just sat around and had a few beers. Jordy made a friend with a little girl about the same age in the van next to us and they played for a couple of hours which was great. A quick shower, dinner time (Jordy took himself over to Mum and Dad's van and ate with them). A snuggle-wrestling game for the boys before they crashed and then some computer time for me and Tim as we try to plan the next few days.

Gold Coast Holiday Park

Gold Coast Holiday Park, The Gold Coast
Stayed three nights. $28 a night. Great park and good value. We stayed down on the camping flats instead of in the main van section which i think made a big difference to us. I know we would have felt a little crowded or confined up in the main section as the sites were close together with smallish roads. And in peak season it must get PACKED! But we had easily 4 acres of flats with only three other camps on it and some nice shady trees. Lovely!
Overall- 4 stars.

Location- 8/10. Right near the motorway across the highway from Movieworld and Wet and Wild, 5min to Dreamworld etc. Just down the road from a bottle-o, convenience store, fast food etc but it did not feel like it was in the city.

Sites- 7/10. Main van sites are good (even if close together) with some shady ones. Some average sized sites but some big rig ones as well. Great tent camping area and rather flashy cabins and bungalows etc.

Bathrooms- 7/10. Really nice spacious bathrooms. Good showers with good shelves and hooks, nice rubber matts on the shower floor. Had a parents bathroom with a bathtub and change table.

Laundry- 7/10. Good facilites. Nice front loaders that washed really well ($3 a load, same for the dryers). Had ironing area as well.

Shop- 7/10. Good drinks selection, a small range of convenience items, as well as chocolates and icecreams. Little tourist info stand. Gas bottles.

Pool- 5/10. Pool area ok. Too much chlorine in it which stung Jordy's eyes quite badly so we did not stay in. Plus there was a sign that kids that were not toilet trained could not go in so Darcy just splashed a bit.

BBQ area- 7/10. Large undercover BBQ area near the amenities with a few free BBQs and picnic tables. Also a communal fridge and microwave. Another smaller area near the pool.

Playground- 7/10. great jumping pillow that was lots of fun (i've never been on one before!), giant chess set. I don't think they had anything else but with the pillow i don't think they need any more.

Other- Tennis courts, kayak hire (although the river was rather average if that's where you are supposed to take the kayaks).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 7- Gold Coast

Had a good quiet day today. The kids were up early. Did a load of washing and while that was on Jordy and i went and played on the jumping pillow. Met up with some older kids who were happy to have Jordy join in their chess game and then the four of us played duck, duck, goose on the jumping pillow. LOL!
Had to open up a new bank account to invest our house money in. We'll have a somewhat tight budget with living off the interest payments cos between when we made the decision to do this and now the interest rates have dropped soooo much (typical) so finding a good account was important. Ended up at the Bank of Queensland.

Had a look online at the Queensland National Parks site to get some info on our next camp area. They have a good website, EPA that i imagine we'll be using in the future.

The kids have had a great day running around the camping flats here. Darcy is practising his walking by walking back and forth between the bikes, red car and truck etc and chasing Jordy. And Jordy has been dozering up his sugar cane (mowed grass) and floating boats (leaves) in his river (a container of water). I think Jordy is overtired from his big day yesterday and being up early this morning cos he has been grouchy and acting up and pushing Darcy and generally being a bit of a turdlet but he refuses to have a nap so he'll be in bed early tonight.

Tim put the golden Lions badge on the front of the truck. Looks good!

I decided to cook a chocolate brownie in the microwave for dessert for tonight. We were supposed to have friends call around for a BBQ but they had to cancel and are coming for breakfast tomorrow instead. And seeing as you can't eat chocolate brownie for breaky i'll just have to eat more of it myself! LOL! It came out really nice so one tick for microwave cooking.

Mum and Dad phoned and they had figured out the problem with their solar panels. Tim told them to call Battery Traders up here near the Gold Coast so they had to leave Ballina early to get it fixed (some kind of problem with the battery and it could not be allowed to drain or something). Tim had spoken to them a few times about an inverter for us (and also about solar when we were considering it for ourselves) and they were really helpful and upfront about everything so i'll give them a bit of a rap! Thanks, Steve!

They arrived around 5pm, a quick set up and then we got a BBQ dinner ready and sat around for a chat. Darcy sounds like he might have a decent night, he's only woken once so far and i put him to bed 2+half hours ago so i'm sitting outside in the cool breeze and having a cup of mint green tea and some brownie!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 6- Gold Coast

Big day today. First thing this morning i did a 'quick' shop to get some groceries and a mini high chair for Darcy. We looked at the google map and the shop was pretty much just at the end of a main road a couple of streets away. Piece of cake. Not.

I saw the signs, saw the flag of the shopping centre, got in the right lane cos the signs were pointing right... only to have a five lane major road all turn onto a highway with 'right land must turn right' signs with one little road heading straight ahead into Westfields... crap. Not to worry, I'll just turn around. Not. I had turned onto the Gold Coast Hwy and there was no where to do a Uturn in the truck and the only turn off said it was the motorway to Brisbane (not keen on that). Anyway.... long story short it took me 40min to do a 10min drive to the shops. I think i ended up in Pacific Palms before i found my way back again cos i did not have a map. I hate the city.

But i got the groceries, and back at the park Darcy had time for his nap :)

Then a mad rush to get sandwiches and drinks packed, a change of clothes for the boys, hats, sunscreen, camera, ergo, stroller.... got the lot. Back in the truck and off to Dreamworld.

We headed straight to Wiggle World. Jordy got excited straight away with the music and brightly coloured rides and attractions. Jordy and i went on Dorothy's Rosy Tea Cup ride and then the Big Red Car ride. We saw Captain Feathersword and ran around the SS Feathersword.

Then off through Tiger Island and over to Nickelodian World which had more rides. I took Jordy and Darcy both on the Dora Aeroplane which Darcy loved. What else.... Tim and the boys ran around in a big canon ball shooting net thing. There were a couple of other rides that i thought Jordy would like but he kept getting sidetracked and we never got back to them! LOL!.

We went back to Wiggle World to have our lunch and the kids played in a Wiggly Fun Area with the plastic climbing castles and trucks and little slides etc. Jordy would have been happy to stay in there all afternoon but we dragged him out to go see what else we could find.

Had a walk through the Australian Animal section. Lots of kangaroos and Jordy asked if it was the Billabong and was Lala here :) I thought we could all go on the Rapid Ride so we walked a loooooong way to the ride only to discover the boys could not go on. I was seriously thinking about leaving them behind and going on it myself cos it was HOT! Instead we walked back to the Vintage Cars. Jordy really liked these so he had three goes around the track. It was never really busy there but by the afternoon the crowds had really thinned so there was no waiting at all for the rides which was great.

After that we walked back to Wiggle World and Tim took Jordy on Dorothy's Tea Cups again. Darcy woke up and i was about to take both kids on again but then Dorothy came out and Jordy wanted to go wave and hug her so we did that instead.
At the end of the day we bought two paddlepops and a coke and that was it. Cindy had given us a 'mates rates' ticket so we got in for half price and the boys were both free so pretty good value for a big day out. Finally we caught the train for a lap around the park which was a nice way to finish things off.

At the car park we saw the helicopter land and take off right in front of us and the passengers and pilot all waved to Jordy as they flew overhead. Bundled the kids back in the truck and Jordy was asleep before we even got out of the car park.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 5- Ballina to Gold Coast

Said our goodbyes to my grandma at lunchtime today. I hope we are able to get back for xmas or something to see her again soon. We'll miss her 90th birthday party next month which is really disappointing for us.

The trip north was a nice easy one of about 2hours. Lovely scenery. I took a photo as we drove over the hills but no chance to stop. (Excuse the photo if it is blurry. Sun is really bright here so i can't see my computer screen properly to check what the photo looks like! LOL! )

We drove past a sign to an "Historic Brewery" but cos we had an appointment this afternoon we had to keep driving. We both agree it will be the last time we drive past something when we have all the time in the world to just call in for a look.

We are staying at the Gold Coast Holiday Park which is right near Movieworld and Wet n Wild etc. Amazing location and the park is really bush-feeling. Quite surprising really. Here is the view from our site down to the river. We are down on the camping flats (with a powered site) rather than up in the caravan section. We did not care about having a slab next to the van and the extra space for the kids is great. That is Jordy in the distance in his Big Red Car and Darcy chasing along behind. :)

It took us 1hour from pulling up in the truck to having everything unfolded, beds made, awning up, shadecloth attached, table set up and bums in chairs.

Donnie from The Awning Man came out to measure up for our annexe walls. We've had really great service from them the whole way through and i would highly recommend them. They know we are travelling through and said they would get everything made asap for us... which i assumed would mean fit Monday-ish. Well they could have had them fitted for us on Friday! But we've booked in here until then so we'll get them on Saturday.

And old friend of Tim's that we have not seen since we got married called out to see us with her three beautiful girls that are all growing up far too fast. As usual Jordy was off with his new best friends and they wandered over to the other side of the park and played on the jumping pillow until dusk (by which time i was really thinking of tracking them down).

We had a quick dinner (Spaghetti Bol mince in the microwave, pasta on the stove) and then i showered the kids in the caravan shower. Tim has a migraine so he crashed which is why i did not use the amenities block and instead stuck me and both the boys in the bathroom cubicle in the van. It was surprisingly good! It was the first time i have used it. We all fit in there together and when we were done i had somewhere safe to put Darcy where usually in the amenities block i have to juggle getting us both dry and me dressed without putting him on the floor which is bloody hard! So in the future when we leave it too late to bath them in the esky outside i think i might use our own shower more often.

The kids both had big days and they went straight to sleep at about 8:30 so i am sitting having a coffee and some M&Ms in peace. aaaaahhhhhhh.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 4- Ballina

headed over to Casino today to say hello and goodbye to more family before we head off. All the recent rain has done it's job and the valley is lovely and green at the moment. Another hectic day though getting stuff sorted so not really in holiday mode yet.

But while i was laying in bed earlier tonight trying to put Darcy to sleep (did not work and he got up and played for another hour!) but there was a lovely breeze blowing through the bed end and i could see the half moon through the bed flys and it was just lovely (except for the squirming baby!).... i can't wait until we can relax together and enjoy more evenings sitting outside in the cool night breeze and just breath.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 3- Ballina

Trying to sort out our inner spring mattress problem. I have to say that the people at Jayco really are not all that helpful so far... and i'm also trying to work out why my wireless broadband needs wires.... but if they are our biggest worries at the moment then we have to say we are doing ok!

oh, i nearly forgot- my wine!!! Mum and Dad have too much weight in their van and have to offload some gear... and they had 4dozen bottles of red stored for me. So today we are re-organising and prioritising. I say the wine has to stay. Tim is not so convinced. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

But nothing much exciting going on today. Just washing and sorting and checking things out. Tim is going to get a fan to fit inside the fridge vent to help the fridge work better in high heats. It's ok here but if we get too many days pushing 40' it will struggle so we'll get it sorted out now while we have a chance.

And Darcy walked right across the loungeroom here. Did not get a chance to count the steps but i guess 15-20 steps. He went half way then stopped, bent his knees for balance, looked around and grinned, and then went again.

Dad cooked a couple of chickens in the Weber Baby-Q for dinner. I made a super easy stuffing just to see how lazy i could be and have something edible! I just sliced up some wholegrain bread, diced a tomato, added a jig of worcestershire sauce, a squirt of tomato sauce and some salt and pepper. Squished it together and stuffed it in. It was actually really nice.

Editted to add- NEWSFLASH! Jordy fetched his first beer all by himself (should i be proud or embarrased?) Tim is obviously happy :)

Day 2- Coffs to Ballina

Had a nice leisurely breakfast... Tim treated himself to bacon and eggs :) then packed up and headed off for the 2+half hour trip to Ballina. Got the timing right this time and left at 10:30 so the kids slept almost the whole way and only got grouchy with 10minutes to go so we are pretty sure we are right with the maximum of three hours per trip.

We are loving the caravanners wave! LOL! and have noticed that people are more likely to wave before midday than they are after lunch. Seems like people get grouchy and the howdy wave becomes too much effort after midday... but Tim is working to improve his odds.

Arrived at a wonderful 5star facility in Ballina, otherwise known as 'Grandma's house'. Bloody hot in Ballina so we all just sat around and melted in the 36' heat. Tim went and bought beer. Mum and Dad arrived just in time for dinner (they got a flat tyre at Ulmarra) and we sat around and complained about the heat until it was time for bed and we retired to our air conditioned caravan.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Split Solitary Beach Holiday Park

Split Solitary Beach Holiday Park, Coffs Harbour.
Stayed only one night. Wish it was longer! One of the best caravan parks i've seen. Had all the facilities as well as having a great relaxing feel.

Overall- 4 stars.
Location- 7/10. only 5 or 10minutes north of Coffs Harbour (not all that far past the Big Banana) so close enough to town but the big winner is that it is right on the beach.

Sites- 8/10. Lovely and shady. Some average sized sites but some nice big ones too. Good tent camping area and cabins etc. Lots of grass.

Bathrooms- 6/10. New enough, but certainly clean. Large shower cubicles with decent enough shelves and hooks etc.

Laundry- had no reason to check out the laundry but they did have one.

Shop- 7/10. Mini convenience store sort of setup with all the things you might forget, as well as chocolates and icecreams at a decent price. We did not get one but apparently they sell meat packs too for the BBQ.

Pool- 6/10. Good pool area. Really deep though and i found it hard to touch much past the stairs end. But there was a toddler pool too if i had of been concerned.
BBQ area- 7/10. Large undercover BBQ area near the pool with a few free BBQs and picnic tables. Also a communal fridge and microwave.

Playground- 7/10. standard playground castle for young children, but also putt putt golf and a games room with ping pong and arcade games.

Other- Near the beach there is also a tennis net, volley ball net, basket ball hoop and punching bag for those feeling active. And up near the pool there is a comfy TV room with DVDs and books for those feeling not-so-active.