Sep 30 We chose to make our last stop at Warragul, just 100 kms or so from Melbourne. This is in the Gippsland region of Victoria which is well known for its wineries and gourmet deli products. We take a short trip to Yarragon to visit the Brandy Creek winery and could not walk away without a couple of bottles of rose and a port !! The winery also puts on huge paella evenings which we missed but take a look at the size of the paella dishes.
Sep 25, 26 Next stop is Merimbula on the south-east coast of New South Wales. Merimbula is the holiday resort of the Sapphire Coast. The town has a population of around 4,000 (and far more in summer) is situated around beautiful coastal waterways. The weather on arrival was sunny and 21 degs. However, a southerly change causes quite a drop in temperature but, fortunately, the rain stays away.
We do some local sightseeing and take a walk on the 3 km boardwalk along the water’s edge.
Sep 27 – 29 We finally make it across the Victoria border and set up our next camp in Lakes Entrance, a small town on the coast next to the Gippsland Lakes and a glorious stretch of coast known as Ninety Mile Beach. The weather is still a cool 15 degs or so but we manage to do some local sightseeing on the bikes. We did have some problems with an aggressive magpie that attacked us both but we also snapped some of the more loveable local fauna.
Sep 19 We have to be in Melbourne on Oct 1 to catch the ferry to Tasmania. So we start the trip south with a 1 night stay at Toowoon Bay near The Entrance, which is located about 2 hours north of Sydney on the NSW Central Coast where the magnificent Tuggerah Lake meets the Pacific Ocean. The area is known for its abundance of pelicans which are fed daily.
Sep 20 We take the chance of a stop in Sydney to catch up with Sheila, Siobhan’s best friend from Ireland. We cannot believe the amount of traffic in Sydney and are thankful we do not have to face it every day. Siobhan visits Sheila for a major catch up.
Sep 21,22 We head to Canberra for a 2 night stay. The annual spring flower festival, The Floriade, is on and we spend some time looking at the beautiful flowers. We also visit the Australian War Memorial which is a fantastic museum of history of the Australian military. The weather during the day was a lovely sunny 20 degs … but at night it reached 0 degs – the first time ever our 4 wheel drive had seen ice on the windscreen !!
Sep 23, 24 Continuing our journey south we stop at Bateman’s Bay for 2 nights. Situated on the banks of the Clyde River, it is famous for its oysters, which we sampled at a local seafood restaurant on the water. We visited the local Moruya country markets. The town is famous for its large inticately carved wooden statues throughout the town’s main street. (Sorry, forgot the camera that day !!) Moruya is also famous for supplying the granite used in the piers of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Sep 16 to 18 We finally arrive at Forster Tuncurry, leave the caravan at a site in town and move into a lovely 3 bed house in the Tallwoods golf resort with Tom and Julie, our friends who live in Nelson Bay. We had a lovely time, playing 2 rounds of golf on the resort course and generally relaxing, eating and drinking too much. It was great to catch up with Tom and Julie.
Sep 10 to 15 2011 After a short stay back at Cotton Tree to pick up post, car service, Bob’s pacemaker service, etc, we head south to meet with Tom and Julie at Forster Tuncurry for some R & R. We are meeting them on Sep 16 for the weekend and the trip is about 600 kms in total so we can take our time.
First stop is Tweed Heads which is just over the border from Queensland into New South Wales. The locality is famous for its Snapper Rocks and Point Danger surf breaks.
Next stop is for 1 night at Evans Head, a small coastal fishing town located at the mouth of the Evans River, it was the first prawning port in Australia. It is the perfect place for a casual bike ride along the ocean to spot some of the local wild dolphins playing in the surf. Note the photo of a plaque commenorating some famous local surfing grannies !
Coffs Harbour is our next stop for 2 nights. We took the opportunity to play one of the prettiest golf courses we have yet seen – Bonville. The scenery was spectacular. Coffs Harbour is also the home of migrating birds called short-tailed shearwaters or mutton birds. They nest underground in burrows on an island called Mutton Bird Island which can be accessed by foot from the harbour. We were slightly dissapointed to hear that most of the birds had been disturbed by a rally Australia event the day before which was held around the harbour. The birds did return after a few days.
Final stop on the road to Forster Tuncurry is an old favourite – Port Macquarie. We stay at one of our favourite sites with the river and the beach both really close. We caught up with some friends who now live there and also played golf at Wauchope, just outside the town.
Sep 1 to 7 2011 We arrive at the Wallace Caravan Park in Maryborough for the annual Queensland Vets Golf Championships. There are over 20 players at this event from our own home golf club at Pelican Waters. We are joined at the caravan park by Jeff and Faye Chappell, Dick Hancock and Marilyn Fitzpatrick. Dick and Marilyn have a unique camp fire called the ‘Pig’. It is made out of a 9 kg gas cylinder. We all gather around the Pig each evening for a catch up, a drink (or 2) and nibbles. Marilyn impressed all one evening with her traditional damper – delicious with golden syrup.
Maryborough has some amazing history and beautiful colonial architecture. For example, even though it is 20 kms up river from the coast, it was the second largest immigration port in Australia in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We went on a 2 hour guided tour of the city (walking !) and learned a lot of the history. The local sugar industry was founded on the import of native labourers from Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait, Vanuatu and the Solomons (amongst others). Unfortunately, most of these labourers were not treated well – average salary was 6 pounds per year, paid half yearly.
Maryborough has another unusual claim to fame. The author of Mary Poppins, Pamela Travers, was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough in 1899 where her father was a local bank manager. A life size bronze statue of Mary Poppins stands at the corner of the road where the author was born.
Most people will have heard about the terrible floods in Queensland earlier this year. Since Maryborough is situated on a large river (the Mary) and is also quite close to the coast, it was affected quite badly. The effect of the floods can be imagined if you look at the 2 photos below. They show the side of a house that sits 26 metres above the normal river level. This year the water just reached the bottom of the house at 26 metres above normal level. However, the record flood was in 1893 at nearly 42 metres above normal.
Back to the golf tournament, played over 2 days, with Pelican Waters Golf Club very well represented with over 20 players. 9 separate golfers from PWGC won individual prizes. An excellent result for the club.
Aug 29 2011 We left Yeppoon and headed nearer to Maryborough (need to be there for the Queensland Vets Golf Championships) for a short stay at Bargara, on the coast just 15 kms east of Bundaberg. Bargara is a beautiful and unspoilt coastal town which is definitely on the re-visit list. There is a coastal bicycle track which travels 10 kms north to Burnett Heads. We gave our bikes a good run on that track ! The track travels through a large turtle sanctuary where turtles return to their birth place to dig large nests in the sand to lay their eggs. These turtles always return to the exact same beach where they were born to lay their own eggs. Unfortunately, the turtle season is later in the year.
We played 2 local golf courses – Bargara and Coral Cove. Coral Cove’s claim to fame is it is one of the only 2 golf courses in Australia with a Par 6 hole. Bob also had a hit at the local Bundaberg squash club to keep his hand in.