Saturday, April 4, 2009

Allan Terry van park review

Allan Terry Caravan Park, Hughenden.
Stayed one night. $20 a night. It was only a basic park but for the price i think it was really great value.
Overall- 2+half stars.

Location- 6/10. Just one street back from the main street but it would make a long walk. Right near the train station if you want to get fussy but it's not like it's central station out there! Also next door to the town pool.

Sites- 7/10. Nice drive through sites with large raised grassed sections and a big tree to each van.

Bathrooms- 5/10. Did the job.

Laundry- 3/10. Laundry in a breeze-way sort of undercover area. Nothing flash.

Shop- no

Pool- 6/10. You can actually just walk straight on through to the town pool next door!

BBQ area- 3/10. There was a picnic table and i think some kind of old BBQ thingy that appeared best avoided but it may well have been fine?!?! It looked like they may have been building a new camp kitchen but we did not need it so did not check it out.

Playground- none.

Other- nothing else.

Day 36- Hughenden to Richmond

Happy Birthday, Darcy!!!

We had wanted to get him a dinosaur birthday cake but there is nowhere to buy a cake out here and as horrible as it sounds i have not had time to cook him a cake. So the poor kid got a whole lot of nothing. How embarrasingly sad!

He got a new swimming rashy and a singlet and a pair of shirts from grandma and grandpa but that was his only present cos Tim and i were too lazy to buy him anything. Actually, we bought him a pair of crocs a few days ago for his birthday but he is wearing them already.

We spent close on an hour trying to get the computer set up for a web chat with Aunty Lala and finally managed to get a 5min chat before we had to finish packing to get on the road. Our mobile phones have no reception even though the computer has full signal... ?? go figure?? After being too busy playing with the kids next door Jordy decided he was ready to talk as soon as we hung up. Has to be contrary.

There are a few areas around Hughenden where you can fossick for fossils and we thought it would be fun to try before we left town so we asked for directions at the tourist centre- head out of town about 16km and when the road goes from one lane to two lanes look for the dry creek bed with three gum trees in it. Found it!

It was stinking bloody hot! And Darcy fell asleep in the truck on the way so we left the birthday boy in the car while we searched for 10million year old remains of sea creatures. I found one belemnite (sort of a squid body) after only a few minutes, and then some interesting pieces of glass looking quartzy stuff but then i scrambled and searched for a while with no luck. So i left Tim to that creek bed, and Jordy and i headed to another 100m down the road. I was dying in the heat and Jordy wanted me to carry him cos he was "getting puffed out". After about 10min i found a good area and found close on a dozen more belemnites, a round thing that looked somewhat fossily, and another rock that looked like a fossilised piece of bone.

By that stage Jordy had had enough so we headed but to the truck. And found Tim scratching in the dirt RIGHT beside the truck pulling out whole belemnite after belemnite. He'd found a great cache right where we'd parked. LOL! Typical. He even had shade.

Darcy woke then and had the shits and Jordy was hot and tired and we were hot and everyone was hungry so we turned the air con on! We usually just drive with the windows down (even though Jordy complains that his hair blows in his eyes!) but we needed to bring in the big guns this time. Made the trip to Richmond a bit tough cos we lost the window for Darcy's nap time. The boys have both been travelling beautifully once we got into a routine and they became used to the travel. But the morning stop-off stuffed things up so luckily it was only a short trip. I think about 130km...?

The van park at Richmond is really nice. It's right on a man-made lake that has a park and a Bush Tucker Garden around it. You can even fish and waterski on the lake! There are red-claw in it too apparently. So as soon as we unpacked we headed straight down for a swim.

The water was perfect. Absolutely glorious. The last few pools we have had have been really cold but the lake here is lovely. We swam and floated and played around the little jetty until the suncreen stopped working and we all felt the heat. I picked some bauhinia flowers from the Bushfoods garden and soaked them in water like the info sign said to make a sweet drink. I thought it was quite nice and refreshing but Tim was less than impressed. :)

A quick change and off to Kronosaurus Korner, the local dinosaur place. They have a great display and have found some incredible complete massive dinosaur fossils in this region. Amazing to think that this area was a huge inland sea. And the Kronosaurus make Tyranasauras Rex look like a baby dino. (ignore spelling- too tired to google to get it right!) We were rather happy that we got in for $15 for the 4 adults instead of the usual $12 per person because the air con was not working inside... It was still cooler inside than out! Both the boys loved the displays are the areas where you could discover a pretend fossil in the sand. I had to laugh at Darcy who walked around with his hand to his ear as if he had a talking guide as well. Showed the lady at the tourist desk my finds from Hughenden. She did not know too much about fossils but did not think my bone looking piece was really bone as apparently bone will sort of cling to your tongue a bit when you lick it! Learn something every day.

Darcy was so tired from his messed up nap this morning that he crashed at 6:30. He did not even have dinner let alone give us a chance to put a candle in something. We will have to do something better for him when we get to Mt Isa.

He even missed the webchat with Tim's family. Was great to talk properly with the mic this time and Jordy was excited to see them. He wants to see Bundy next time so not sure how we'll organise that.

Not sure whether to stay here an extra night or not. You can do more fossil fossicking nearby and they have more variety here with shark teeth and shells etc but if it is as hot tomorrow we might not do that. And the lake is lovely so we could swim and do the walk around the lake edge... ?? But if we move on then that gives us an extra day we could spend at Katherine NP or Darwin etc.... ?? I guess we'll decide in the morning.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Aussie Outback Oasis park review

Aussie Outback Oasis Big 4, Charters Towers,
Stayed four nights. $25.45 a night. We all think this might be the nicest park we have stayed at so far!!! Nice and new with all the facilities you need and really lovely managers that offer great service.
Overall- 4 stars.

Location- 6/10. Close to town and close to the highway.

Sites- 7/10. Sites are good with decent shade. Nice easy drive through sites with plenty of rrom around them.

Bathrooms- 8/10. Lovely and new. First shower i have had since leaving home that felt like home. They had nice shower racks and were fully tiled and had a proper ceiling fan to keep the rooms cool and not stuffy. I commented on how much i loved them and Tim said he would have liked a shower curtain!

Laundry- 8/10. Lots of clean machines. $3 a load. Also had a little plastic baby bath and a good shelf in there to bath Darcy in. And someone had gone to some effort to put lots of info sheets up like a bulletin board with shopping and services in town.

Shop- 4/10. Had ice-creams and milk and chocolates in the office. And a snacks machine in the laundry.

Pool- 8/10. Nice fibreglass pool with a rock waterfall and a little toddler section. Lovely and cool. Nice grassed around around it with sun chairs etc.

BBQ area- 8/10. Good undercover BBQ area with a tv and full kitchenette with fridge and microwave.

Playground- 7/10. Good playground with all the usual equipment as well as a jumping pillow which is always a big hit with Jordy.

Other- I think they had WiFi interet access. They offered valet parking for the vans which i thought was nice.

Day 35- Charters Towers to Hughenden

We usually like to start to tidy up a bit the night before we pack up but we were both so exhausted by the time we got the kids to bed that was the end of it. So i was expecting a slow pack up and a late start but we must be getting better at it cos we were organised in no time.

Jordy had found a couple of dead frogs the he was keen to show everyone and poke with a stick. Both the boys had a jump on the jumping pillow again and we were still on the road at 9:45.

A boring, hot drive for the 250km to Hughenden with not much to see. Lots of grasslands, that changed to ironbark, and then as we went through the one small mountain there was lots more eucalypts and even wattle in bloom even though it's totally the wrong season for it back home...?? Then back to grasslands as we came into Hughenden. It's a small town but nice-feeling for some reason. Hughenden is part of the Dinosaur Trail and is one of the few places where dinosaur fossils are easily found. South of here, in Winton, is the only place in the world where there is evidence of a dinosaur stampede.

The park we are staying at is quite simple but it has some shade which i think will start to get rare from here on. Plus it is next to the town pool with a side gate that we just walk straight in to which is cool.

A quick unpack and we went in to town to the pub for lunch and a beer. (Another CRAP review once Tim get himself organised). Friendly locals. Then we visited the Flinders Discovery Centre to check out the dinosaurs. Both the kids had a ball. Lots to see and a section where you can feel the fossils (check out the photo of him yelling "Touch it, Mum! Touch it!!" cos i was too busy with the camera and not paying enough attention to the fossil he found) and dress up in dinosaur costumes etc. Jordy did a big puzzle.

We talked to the staff about the areas around town where you can go and fossick for your own fossil and i think we will do that tomorrow.

A little town that we drove through on the way here used to be famous for its sausages (we read in one of the tourist booklets) but apparently the sausages are now only sold in Hughenden. So Tim headed to the butcher to grab some for dinner. The bloke said that the famous Prairie butcher has closed down so they were not making them anymore.... but!! the bloke that used to be the Prairie butcher happened to work for him now so he guessed that meant you still could kinda get them! LOL! So Tim bought some cheese and cracked pepper sausages and some barbeque sausages.

Then off to the pool for a swim. The water is sooooo cold! We really can't figure how with the heat of the sun on the water all day that it says so cold. It was the same at Charters Towers. But maybe because it is so hot out that the water just feels cold? Anyway it was lovely and refreshing.

Tim set the tv up outside so we could watch the footy without worrying about waking Mr Grumpy Bum (Darcy). Jordy wandered around the park with a torch and looked for lizards. And we had our sausages and vege. Tim reckons the black pepper and cheese sausages are the best sausages he's ever had! Big call!! I liked them but they were just one shade too peppery for me but still nice.

The park was empty when we arrived but as it got later several other campervans arrived. One couple is here with two kids a similar age to ours (and they have a boy! It has been totally bizarre but every family we have met have all had girls!). We had a chance for a chat. Sounds like they work a few months out of the year and are travelling back to Broome to work for a bit before they head to Victoria for xmas. He came over for a bit and had a beer and caught some footy before his kids went to bed. It was nice to have a decent chat to other campers for a while instead of the usual 2minute conversation of "hi, where you from, where you headed, have fun" that you get on the coast.

Jordy went to bed yammering about dinosaurs and telling us how amazing it was to see them today. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 34- Charters Towers

Lazed around the van park, Jordy jumped on the jumping pillow, played at the park, and rode his bike around the place. We got a call to say we could look at the Ambulance museum at 11 so we headed into town just in time for that.

Spent a good hour looking through the museum. Apart from old surgical tools, and defibrillators, and uniforms etc they had book upon massive book of all the ambulance records since their first case in 1904. You could read the log books which recorded the patient, age, occupation, address, injury, history, distance travelled to get to them, number of ambos required, where the patient was taken to etc etc. Some of the cases were rather interesting.
Jordy was given a lovely stuffed bear by the man at the museum so he has dragged that around with him since. :) He keeps managing to score stuff from half the places we visit- like a carved timber koala, wooden hanging photo thing of a bunch of puppies, colouring in book, cookies!, a thickshake, chocolates! and the list goes on....

Bought a microphone so we can chat properly on the webcam thingy so feel free to MSN us for a chat!

Home for some lunch and a swim. Mid afternoon we packed a bag of chips and a few beers and went down to Centenary Park. Jordy played with some kids in the playground and we had a wander around the little sculpture display thing (an actual re-enactment of the discovery of gold except the little boy is mysteriously missing) and had a beer and a chat.

Steak and vegies for dinner with a few prawns and florentine potatoes to jazz things up. Darcy has been having a shit of a time of a night recently so early to bed for us again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 33- Charters Towers

Jordy was up super early this morning and knocking on Grandma and Grandpa's van at 6am wanting his breakfast. hehehe.

Another relaxed morning. We found Jordy's lego when we were digging the ice-cream machine out last night so Tim and Jordy played for ages building helicopters and tractors.

Then we drove into town and up to Tower Hill. The countryside around here is all really flat but right on the edge of town there is one big hill which is where they found gold in 1871. From the top of the hill you can see 360' views of the plains and the little volcanos in the distance. Tim reckons that this is his kind of country (instead of the rainforests that i like).
There are some short walks around the hill but Mum and I are talking about coming back for sunrise or maybe watching the Ghosts After Dark film that they show up at the hill so we will do the walks when it's cooler.

There are 21 bunkers from WWII scattered around the hill as well. And seismic stations and all sorts of things there now.
We wanted to see the Historical Ambulance Museum but we were on our way out of town when we realised that it shut at 12 and is only open on Wednesdays and Sundays so we are hoping there might be a way to see it tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

But we got out to see the Burdekin flood marker about 20km out of town, I think it was at Macrossin Bridge or something like that, but it had a record of all the major floods and some of them are BIG ones. There was a road that we could see on the other side of the river so we went for a drive to check it out and there was actually a freecamp area over there. A bit bloody hot and too far from the river for my tastes but quite nice. Lovely old train bridge across the river. Interestingly enough a bloke that we chatted to out there said that three weeks ago the water was only 18inches from the bottom of the train bridge which just seems incredible but you could see the debris everywhere and the sandy road was all torn to pieces where the council have not yet had a chance to get out and fix it. But Dad got to do some 4WDing so he was happy. :)

Home for a late lunch and a swim in the pool.

Tim jumped on his bike and rode into town for his own personal pub crawl. I think he really enjoyed a chance to sit and chat with some locals (even managed to get himself offered a job!) He was weaving a bit on the ol' bike as he staggered home.

Chicken, some Mungali cheese and risotto for dinner and we all crashed.

Day 32- Charters Towers

It gets cold here overnight! We went to bed with everything open and the windows half unzipped like usual and i was pulling up the blankets and zipping things up and still snuggling in cos it was cold. It might be time to bring out the doonas! Yay!

Nice relaxed day today. We are staying here for several nights and even though there is a fair bit to do in town it is all really laid back and nothing that needs any rushing so we can have a breather.

After a slow breakfast Tim, Jordy, Darcy and i had a walk around the park and a jump on the jumping pillow and a quick play in the park. Then we headed into town - I think Charters might be a city but it's a country town city so not a shitty city :) - We drove past a few old buildings and the kind of houses that Tim loves with the massive backyards and a bit of a verandah and plenty of room for a vegie garden for me. We parked near the old Freemasons Lodge which must have been an impressive sight back in the hey-day.

Walked straight to the Tourist Info centre to get a few brochures and start the lap of the town centre and its heritage sights. Stopped for an early lunch at the Stock Exchange cafe and listened to the Calling of the Card. Again we are still early for tourist season so the lady just set it up and turned it on for us after we'd had lunch seeing as we missed the 'official' running time. Then a wander through the little mining and valueing museum there.

Had a look at the old WWII photo display at City Hall. Then down to the Folk Museum. They had some great stuff to look at but Jordy was the most impressed with the big old tractor that they let him sit on. He then sat up there for ages and yelled at us to get out of the way cos he was cutting sugarcane. They had a couple of MASSIVE bundaberg rum bottles, and some odd things like a suicide letter from a woman whose love died in the mines and she was all brokenhearted and so poisoned herself back in 1904, and and old baby humidicrib and an iron lung machine, and memorabilia from the war.

Back up the street to the World Theatre which is an impressive building. They had a photographic display of Children in the Outback that had some great shots and great little stories. This big clock tower is the post office.

Then we grabbed some groceries and Tim bought a pair of shoes (he has been trying to get a pair of sandels since we left home and it's taken this long!). Back to the van and we dragged the ice-cream machine out and Tim made orange sorbet while the rest of us had a quick dip in the pool (Darcy napped.

We sat around and had our cheese platter (those tiny tomatoes are tasty) and were amazed that it was already after 5pm! Where did the day go?!?!

Tried to have a webchat with family back home but i think our microphone must have been thrown out or left behind somewhere so we typed while they talked which was slow and really not the same so we're off to buy a microphone to try again.

Homemade steak burgers for dinner. Once again i crashed putting Darcy to bed and then dragged myself up at 10:30 for sorbet and a cup of tea and then back to sleep (with a nice snuggly doona this time.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

more Undara photos

Sorry, Al, but in the hundreds of photos i took for some reason i did not get a photo of teh train carriages snakeing through the bush. Not sure why! But here are a couple of carriages being used in the restaurant area. The bar is also a converted carraige and looks neat but again i did not get a photo. ??

Day 31- Undara to Charters Towers

Super organised packup this morning. We had sandwiches made the night before and everything ready to go so we were packed up and on the road by 9:30. Tim even had time to gather some wild tomatoes from the bushes scattered around the place. We'll eat them with cheese and crackers later :)
We did not fill up out here.... they have diesel but at 159.5 a litre visitors clearly only use it in an emergency. The last bloke put a whole 5.65L in which would have got him to the cross roads but not to another petrol station.

As hoped we had time for a quick stop at Kalkani Crater. Mum and i high-tailed it up the side of the hill while the guys waited with the kids at the picnic area. The crater was not what i expected. I assumed that inside the volcano area it would look different somehow to the surrounding vegetation. Maybe more arid or with fewer trees or something. Not sure why i thought that seeing as the volcano has not been doing anything for a while now so the trees had time to grow! LOL!
But the view from the rim to the surrounding countryside was rather special. The sky is just the most incredible shade of blue out here.

Back down the track quick smart and in the truck for the long haul to Charters Towers. 380km which is the biggest day for us so far. It's probably a good thing that the boys are both a little unwell at the moment so happy to sleep more. Darcy slept almost the whole way which was a big relief cos it is a long hot monontonous drive with some rather average roads and some rather large road trains.

We stopped at Bluewater Springs for lunch. It has a population of 2! And we had wondered how the 'town' could have a caravan park, petrol station, cafe, and somekind of pub cos it offered alcohol as well with just two people. Well, we found out! The town is just the roadhouse and that's it. The roadhouse has petrol and serves a good variety of meals and some pretty decently priced drinks all over the counter. And you can park your van in the backyard if you want to stop over. We met half the population of Bluewater Springs when he made our burgers.

From there it was just over an hour to Charters Towers. We drove past the free camp about 30 odd km out of Charters at Flinders Creek and it looked really nice. But we have lots we want to see and do in town so have opted for the Big 4 caravan park. I have to say first impressions of the place are pretty good!

Undara Experience park review

Undara Experience.
Stayed two nights. $30 a night. Rather expensive for the facilities but the park is unique so I guess you are paying for the atmosphere of it. LOL! Was a great bush camp and would be nice to stay longer to do more bushwalks.
Overall- 3+half stars.

Location- 7/10. Nothing at all out here except the Lava Tubes and related bushwalks but you would not be here unless you were going to visit them.

Sites- 7/10. Bush camping at its best. Power and water and amenities a bit of a hike away but it feels like you are all by yourself in the middle of the bush. They also have permanent tents and cabins and old train carriages that have been turned into little ensuite rooms.

Bathrooms- 5/10. One block has really small cubicles but there is another that has regular sized ones. They are partly made out of old train cabins or big tin sheds. If you were offered facilities like the ones here in the middle of town you might complain but they are great for out here.

Laundry- 3/10. Only two machines and more than just us waiting to wash. And I think the machines were made back in the 60s! On the up side they were only $2 a load. No lines so we had to bring them back to camp and string out a rope.

Shop- 6/10. Had a little convenience store at reception of the bits you forget. And an icecream fridge. Also had a hue souvenir shop. VERY pricey though. Also sold petrol and their diesel was $1.60!

Pool- 7/10. Lovely rockpool themed pool with a little waterfall and a toddlers pool. Refreshingly cool! Nice.

BBQ area- 8/10. Several BBQ areas and bush camps with open fires. They also have a communal fireplace where you can gather for a chat and a story but we did not go. I think it is mostly only on during the main tourist season.

Playground- none, but you don’t need it out here.

Other- Lots of marked walking trails that leave from the park.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 30- Undara Lava Tubes

We booked into the 8am tour of the Lava Tubes so no messing around this morning. Just up, breakfast, dressed and out the door. Darcy is sick (fever and some vomiting) so I had a crappy night with him and he was still unwell this morning but I wore him in the ergo for the tour and he was happy to snuggle. Our tour guide was lovely and bloody funny (and had a few good tips about photography too! LOL!). The wetlands beside the road on the way to the Tubes is usually a dry swamp plain at this time of year but the wet season was a big one this year. There are two walking trails that are completely under water and that has only happened three times since Undarra opened.

The walking trail down into the Tubes is quite lovely with the definite change of plants again. Hot and dry up top and lovely and cool down below. We did not know beforehand but the Tubes themselves are full of water as well and while we went under the big archway and down into two entranceways we did not get to walk right into the Tubes which we had all been looking forward to doing. The water looks amazing under there though and we could have swum in along the pathways but again no one said anything so we had no swimmers. If I had of been wearing anything other than denim pants I would have gone in in my clothes. One lady went in in her clothes and another stripped down to her undies! LOL! But without torches they could not go far into the Tube.

After the tour we came back to our camp for morning tea. I made tea with some native lemongrass that we were shown at the end of the tour. It was surprisingly good and very flavorful. Went exceptionally well with some lime and black pepper chocolate from the Coffee Works.

We wanted to do the Kalkani Crater Rim walk but it’s 16km from camp and we did not like the idea of riding our bikes that far there and back! The guys want to keep the vehicles hitched to the vans to save time tomorrow so instead Mum and I did one of the local 2.5km walks around the park. We went up to a lookout that had a great view of the small volcano peaks around Undarra. Gorgeous scenery. And the flowers and birds and butterflies are just everywhere. We were going to do another small walking circuit on the way back but Mum’s shoe fell apart! So back to camp.
We pottered around back at camp for a few hours doing nothing special. I had a good look through the hundreds of photos I had taken. We were going to head out to the wetlands and have a walk along the main road and do some wildlife spotting but we weren’t in a rush! And ended up just tidying up the van and getting dinner prepped to make our departure easier in the morning. We decided that even though we have a big drive ahead of us to get from here to Charters Towers we want to do have a look at Kalkani Crater so we are going to do that on the way out in the morning.

Athough not technically a pub there is a bar here and it was decided that a CRAB review was better than no review at all…. But when we got there it was closed! LOL! The park was full of guests this morning but they all left after the tours today. But we hung around looking at the old railway cars that have been converted to a restaurant and bar area and eventually a bloke came and opened up to serve us a couple of beers.
Not sure if Tim got enough of a feel for the place for a proper review so I’ll just have to see what he comes up with. The kids were happy enough playing with the balls from the pool table anyway.

Darcy was getting grouchy again so showers and dinner and a super early night for him. Jordy ate with Mum and Dad, and dad cooked pancakes! They then fed him two bowls of ice-cream so he was up til all hours riding out his sugar high.