Saturday, March 14, 2009

Marlborough Hotel review

Marlborough Hotel.
Stayed 1 night. $4 per person (including Jordy) to use the facilities.

There is a large grassed area with a couple of big trees in the back of the pub. For $4 you can use the toilets and showers but there is no water or power.

The hotel itself is nice enough (see Tim's CRAP review) for meals and whatever but not really cheap if your plan is to save money.

Convenient location as an overnight stop. If you have kids under 4 that are free at a van park but you get charged for them at Marlborough then it might be borderline as to whether it is worth it if you can keep travelling through, but for a single or couple it was good value.

Day 15- Marlborough to Mackay

We need to get our system sorted! We were the last campers out of Marlborough. Even the other couple with two kids managed to sneak out nice and early. But then we were not in a rush and we sat around looking over the Camps book for a bit. A good trip north with Jordy going in Mum and Dad's car and Darcy sleeping the whole way. Diesel was down to 107.9 around Carmilla but unfortunately we did not need any. Back up to 117 odd once we hit Mackay. We were planning to stay at Seaforth for a few days which is 40km past Mackay... but once we got on the road and started talking we decided we had stuff we wanted to do in the town of Mackay itself and were not keen on having to backtrack that far so we thought we'd try our chances calling in to a couple of van parks and seeing what sort of prices were on offer. The council camp at Seaforth was $17 a night but without power so we decided if we could get a park in town for $22 then we'd do that.

We called out to Bucasia Beach first. She was a bit grouchy and best price was $25 and although there was a nice public park next to the van park the actual van park was a bit run down and not great feeling so we decided to try Blacks Beach and Seawinds Caravan park. There was noone in the office so we wandered in and had a sandwich and a look around while we waited. The park is right on the beach with a nice grassed area on the edge of the water and although it's not a new park it felt quite nice. The manager here offered us three nights for the price of two ($55) so it turned out about the same as the council park at Seaforth cos we've got power here and a swimming pool. Yay!

Did a complete set up today with the new annexe walls. Looks nice, and will keep the mozzies out although they are not bad here surprisingly enough (and no sandflies either).
Once we were set up we went down to the beach for a look and a swim in the rockpools. It's still stinger season so we won't go in the ocean itself until we find out what it's like. The kids had a great splash and a chase and then we came up to swim in the pool.

There are lots of coconut trees on the waters edge so Dad opened one to see if they were any good. Yummo!! Nice fresh coconut. We'll grab some more tomorrow i think.

An easy dinner of risotto. Jordy sat inside and studied his "Where's Wally?" book for nearly an hour! and then they were both in bed early again.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Calliope camp review

Calliope River free camp.
Stayed 2 nights. Great camping area! Right on the river with heaps of space so even when it's busy you should get a bit of space around you. You can have a fire if you want. I think you were not supposed to use a generator but the area is so big that unless you camped on top of someone you would not hear a generator anyway.

There are signs for crocs in the river though so you are advised not to swim but boats are ok and you can fish in the river.

There are toilets on one side of the river and there is a bridge you can walk over to get to them but it is a little bit of a walk to get there. There is an historical village and cafe there too but we did not check them out.

Day 14- Calliope to Marlborough

Packed up the camp again. Getting a bit better at it but it's still a lot of work that takes about four hours!! Sad to see Calliope go, it was a lovely camp by the river. Would be great if you could swim in it! We had planned to call into Rockhampton for lunch, put the laundry from yesterday in a dryer (bloody rain!) and then head to the Capricorn Caves... but in the end Mum and I decided to wash all our sheets and towels so the laundry took longer than expected. No caves for us! We've been to Emu Park and Yeppoon before so just headed straight up the coast to stop at Marlborough.

The highways here are great! Hardly any traffic so we just cruise along. The land all through the last couple of days has been really flat flood plains for miles with a ring of small mountains that seem to surround us. And not the least bit tropical! Just typical aussie bush like around home.

We are at the Marlborough Hotel. A semi-free camp. LOL! It's $4 per person for shower and toilets. It's a fairly busy little stop. We were the only people here when we first stopped around 3:30 but i think there are four or five other groups camping here now. The Camps book said there was power but apparently they used to offer power but not anymore. This was going to be a top up before a few more nights on a beachfront camp at Mackay but we'll have to see what happens. Could not move on to a different camp though cos footy season starts tonight and there was no way Tim was missing kick off. Plus we have been told the blog is severely lacking in pub reviews so while i sit in the van with the kids Tim is hard at work at the bar reviewing beers. I think he may have needed to try another one (or two) just to be sure.

We ran into another family here that are travelling. They are 7months into their 12month lap. Lovely to chat to. They said it took them a month to really get into a smooth routine but that it's always full on and quite a bit of work (but absolutely wonderful!). We are finding that we are flat out organising / setting up / packing / cooking etc that there has been none of the leisurely strolls to practice photography or read a book or chill out that i had imagined. They are doing it in a van similar to ours and just a regular 4WD so lord knows what all the extra crap is that we are lugging around in the back of the truck! I guess they have a house where they have left toys and stuff where i have tried to drag half of ours with us. And also we have had to rush this section a bit seeing as we have already been through most of the coast here and we have to get to Litchfield in May so we are constantly on the move. Once we slow down i really hope i get one of those leisurely strolls!
Really intermittent dodgy reception here so lets see if i can get online to post this...

Day 13- Calliope

A busy, but uneventful morning. Went into Gladstone to do some banking and grab some fruit & vege. Took a load of washing into the laundromat. Gladstone is not what i expected. It's quite a large town but not really touristy or with that 'beach-front' feel. It's more industrial feeling for some reason. We bought a stovetop kettle so i don't have to use my saucepan to boil water.

Back to Calliope for the afternoon for a quick spot of fishing- just in time for the rain to turn up. But the blokes had a chance to go for a putt in the tinnie and have a look at the river. Darcy wanted to have a go at the fishing too! He's a strong nugget of a kid. He waved the rod around like he was casting off and thought it was great. Did not let him play for long though cos we are being a bit cautious with the possibility of crocs.
Had a yummy dinner of creamy sundried tomato and mushroom pasta with chicken. The kids went to bed rather early so we sat outside and enjoyed the cool air. We had run out of water in the van. Oops! So we put out a heap of buckets to catch the rain and they filled pretty quickly. I decided i'd stick some water on the stove to heat up to do some washing up and so went outside and dunked my kettle in one of the buckets. I got to talking again and the water was boiling when i went to check so i figured while i waited for it to cool down i'd make myself a coffee. Which sounds fine. Added milk, coffee, sugar, water from the kettle..... took a big mouthful. Bleugh!!!! It was the foulest, saltiest, most disgusting coffee with grainy bits that no amount of spitting and spluttering could get out of my mouth. When asked what was wrong i told the others that the rain water was totally foul. Tim asked what bucket i got it from. The white one right there.... "The one with the river water in it with the prawns and bait fish?" uuummmmm....... yeah. I guess it was. Bleugh.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 12- Gayndah to Calliope

Up super early this morning. Darcy woke for a fed at 5:30am and i noticed that the sun was peeking through the trees so i tried to sneak out of bed to try my luck at a sunrise photo... no luck with the sneaking cos he woke. So i stuck him in bed with Tim and Jordy and grabbed the camera.

I'm playing around with getting the star beam effect. This is probably the best one that i took. More practice to do. Lovely morning, and much nicer out in the bush rather than in van parks.

Jordy and Darcy spent the morning playing with sticks and trucks and magnetic letters and climbing over the picnic tables and just generally amusing themselves which was really nice. Jordy convinced Mum to push him up the hill a few times on his bike.

Had a leisurely pack up, and then a cup of tea (coffee) and cake before heading off. Mum and Dad had some bloody delicious fruit cake that they had been hiding from me but it was discovered and finished off :) Now i am wondering how we can arrange to have Robyn ship some more ahead for us.

We had been planning to head to Dululu tonight to stay at another free bush camp on the road to Rockhampton. But we checked the BOM site and all looked good on the coast so we headed towards Gladstone instead. All nice hills and valleys and farmland on the way through.

Stopped for lunch at Gin Gin, another free camp listed in the Camps 4. Was quite nice and would certainly suit an overnight stop but nothing particularly special. The kids had both slept in the truck for the 90min to Gin Gin so we gave them a good run around for a while before continuing on.

Another 2hours or so and we arrived at Calliope River campsite at 3:30pm . We drove over the bridge and saw the river and could not wait to get down to the river bank and make camp so we could go for a swim. Had a bit of back and forth with the set up... i have now learnt that just because one area looks more picturesque than another does not mean that it is better and when Tim says the van won't fit and the ground is not level then there is a fair chance he is right :)

After three attempts we ended up down by the river. We were half way through setting up and a helpful little girl of about 6yrs from up on the hill yelled down to us "What about the crocodiles in the river!" ... Huh? "Are there crocodiles?" ... "The sign says there are crocodiles." Okay then. We weighed up the options and (like idiots?) decided she'll be right and we'll stay where we are. But we are staying out of the water.

Only took about 45min to set up. We are staying a couple of days so set the matting and table and chairs and weber up but have not worried about the annexe.

Nice quick dinner Kofti sausages on the weber with potatos and vegies. I am tempted to make custard cos we have heaps of eggs....

Lovely full moon tonight. We saw a night time rainbow! Which was rather special. And Tim is outside at the moment enjoying a bundy and watching a firefly dart around the place.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Claude Wharton Weir review

Claude Wharton Weir, Gayndah.
Stayed 1 night. Great free camp that you could easily spend a few days at. Lots of shade and nice and peaceful but still close to town. Lots of ants!

There are a few separate areas to camp and you would fit two vans in at two of them although one area is not all that level. The bottom level area even has a water tap! But the other areas have undercover picnic tables and fire places.

The toilets are ok and certainly suitable. No showers.

There is a boat ramp and you can fish in the dam.

Day 11- Caboolture to Gayndah

Got away nice and early this morning, well, early for us. We taped up the bed ends to prevent leaks and left Caboolture at 9:30am. Drove through the rain to Gympie 120km and stopped at Chatsworth Park at 11:15 for lunch. It was still drizzling but the park had a couple of good sheltered picnic tables. It's also an overnight camp and would be quite a nice one.

Jordy found a furry caterpillar (just like in his Beak and Bamboo book!) that he played with for ages until Darcy joined in and squashed it in 3seconds flat. :( Ate our sandwiches, fed the birds, and then back in the truck at 12:15.

Once we got to the range the rain stopped. Lovely countryside, and i think we all started to relax a little once we left the highway and the rain behind.

Headed to Gayndah (orange growing country!) to check out a couple of free overnight camps. Zonhovan park was right on the main road and would be good for a day stop but we kept going to Claude Wharton Weir which is really lovely. There is only one other van here and several undercover picnic tables, little BBQs, toilets, bins etc and it's right on the water. Arrived at 2:45pm so did the 157km (partly over the range) in 2hours30min.

Did not bother to unhitch or put the awning up for just one night so it only took us 30min to set up. Bit jealous of Mum and Dad with their regular style caravan who can pull up and open the door and they are done! But until we upgrade to a 5th wheeler (LOL!) the expanda is the only van layout that suits us.

Tim unpacked the fishing gear and finally got his first chance at a fish. Jordy went along to help and sat on the end of the boat ramp yelling "Fish!! I'm waiting, fish!" He lost interest after 15minutes so no fish for dinner tonight.
Darcy had to play in the portacot while we were doing stuff cos there are lots of ants and he eats the dirt.

Caboolture Caravan Park

Caboolture Caravan Park.
Stayed three nights. $25 a night.
hhhhmmmmmm... if you don't HAVE to stay in Caboolture then maybe keep driving. It was a caravan park but nothing special at all. Staff grumpy.

Overall- 1+half stars.

Location- 4/10. Right near the motorway so maybe handy if you just wanted to stop near the road. Near Bribie Island but there were nicer parks on Bribie itself.

Sites- 3/10. Very small sites. Only a few overnight sites cos most of the park seems to be permanents. They had cabins too that were an unbelieveable $70 a night for really old crappy cabins.

Bathrooms- 3/10. Old. There were two blocks one slightly newer than the other. The old one had virtually no hot water and the new one had intermittent hot water. Had a little bathtub for kids but we did not use it.

Laundry- 5/10. Washers and dryers that did the job. $3 a load. Had a regular clothes line. And an ironing board as well i think.

Shop- 3/10. Had a drinks and chocolate machine in the laundry room. Nothing in the reception area. They had gas available.

Pool- 5/10. Pool area was quite nice. I wish we had of had a chance to use it!!!

BBQ area- 4/10. Undercover communal BBQ area with picnic table. Fridge. Felt really old and dirty so we did not use it but it was probably ok.

Playground- 4/10. Large trampoline with safety net.

Other-there was a boat ramp with access to the river right behind our sites.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 10- Caboolture

Another busy day and another day of worry about the weather. We drove back into North Brisbane to catch up with friends and to pick up our new inner spring mattresses. I had looked at the map and the directions looked really simple especially seeing as we were just in the suburb around the corner the other day so we did not pack the laptop..... but things are never that simple. We drove around a bit and went the wrong way a couple of times and eventually ended up in the right place. From now on when we don't have a map i am going to write down the directions!!! and insist that Tim have a look at where we are going.

It was great to catch up with the lovely women from IP and the kids all had a ball playing in the playground. I managed to share around some of the cloth nappies and woolies that i did not put in storage and Darcy's highchair that we packed but discovered took up too much room. Now i just have to wait to see what photos Aleza snapped for us :)

It would have been nice to stay longer but we had to head off to get our mattresses from Made To Measure Mattresses... i was a bit worried about how they would fit after the mess with Jayco but they fit perfectly and are actually even more comfortable. They are in two parts and we'll have to take them out of the bed ends to travel but it's worth it for the comfort.

Back to Caboolture to start the pack up. It had been raining steadily all day so we had a wet pack up. One of the down sides of the expanda ends i suppose. Tim and Dad ducked into the 12volt shop to grab a fan and step for the van while Mum and i tried to plan the next leg of our journey. Difficult to know where to go with the cylone and the rain along the coast.... ??

Had a roast chicken in the Weber BBQ and jacket potatos in the microwave. Sat up til far too late playing on the computer looking at travel distances and chatting to the Marshalls who are further up north.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 9- Caboolture

Had a look online early this morning at what Caboolture has to offer. Quite a few things to do really but most of them cost more than we want to spend. The Historical Village looks interesting, so does Abbey Museum... but we settled for the markets and a trip to Bribie.

The markets were MASSIVE! I don't think we saw it all. Got a good variety of fruit and vege at incredible prices. Peaches were 50c a kilo, potatos were 70c a kilo, grapes $1 a kilo, 3 avocados for $1, etc etc. We bought several bags and it totalled $8.50 so really happy with that. I also bought a nice summery cotton dress for $5, a plastic bag holding bag for $2, Jordy got some sunnies for $5. Mum got a nice hat for $10. But the vast majority of stalls were selling good stuff (as opposed to the ususal market stalls that look like someone has cleared out grandpa's garage full of crap!) They even had goldfish and chickens :)

We were all really strong and did not succumb to the temptation of the dutch pancakes and coffee and instead headed to Centenary Park and had the sandwiches we packed from home. We discovered early that if we act like we are on holidays and splurge with food we would not normally buy our money will run out real quick. The park was really nice. The boys ran/crawled around with sticks and Tim got his metal detector out and had a quick look around but we thought we had better not dig up the grass :) so after lunch we headed over to Bribie for a look around.

The town on the island is much bigger than we all expected. I thought it would be a little village (like Lake Cathie at home) but it's a thriving little metropolis with several shopping centres and heaps of flash looking housing developments. I'm curious to see what the population is. We noticed that Lions had sponsored all the bus shelters over there and done the Memorial Park. Something that we probably would never even noticed before we became Lions. We'll have to look and see when the Bribie club meets.

We stopped at a park by the beach for a walk around. We were going to take the kids for a swim but the water was a bit muddy and it was too bloody hot in the sun so we decided to just have a walk along the beach. I played with my camera and tried to get some nice photos of the kids.

On the way over we noticed a fruit and vege stall with incredible prices. 9c a kilo for tomatos and onions! Seriously- 9c! How can you even pick them for that price??? I think we might stock up before we leave town.

Got back, did a load of washing, had a beer and sat and discussed our plans for the next week or so. We are keeping an eye on the cyclone up north. We wanted to head to Hervey Bay on Tuesday but at this stage it is all wait and see.

Having homemade pizzas with the works on the weber BBQ for dinner tonight so i had best go get that organised. Will come back tonight and post photos.