Monday, June 28, 2010

Save Mary, Drown Anna

(18-20 June 2010)

After a few days of the generous hospitality at Kate and Giles’ we all head off for a few days camping at Borumba Dam (near Imbil) in the hinterland west of Noosa. The dam feeds into one of the many tributaries that feed the Mary River.

The extended tribe of Saffiya, Soraya, Kaydin, Zak, Jordan and Mardae create their own fun: dirt + water = mudpies!! We all revel in the flat space of the vacant campsite beside us to kick the football about, as well as play ‘tip’ and chasings.

We also compare camp cooking skills – Giles doing a damn fine lamb roast in his camp oven (beats anything on Masterchef – taste: tick, setting: tick, company: tick) and me pitching in with a red Thai curry of chicken and veggies in our thermal cooker. We all agree that both dinners are resounding successes!

The dam is an apparent haven for fishing and while fellow campers dart off at varying hours with their tinnies, the only evidence of the abundance of aquatic life are the catches of yabbies a few of the campers bring home.

The nearby town of Imbil offers Sunday markets to which we visit – a handful of stalls selling trinkets, gemstones, plants, fruit and vegetables, and the ubiquitous local jams and chutneys. We buy a banana cake which weighs more than an ingot.

At noon, we are greeted by the ‘toot toot’ of the Gympie Rattler – a steam train with its human cargo of weekend joyriders. This is the tribe’s first experience of a steam train so it was quite a buzz, especially when we were invited on board for a tour of the many different carriages.

Coincidently, we bump into a family with their own tribe of four kids who we previously met in February when camping at Paradise Beach along the Ninety Mile Beach in Victoria. They too are heading north so there’s a good chance we may yet run into them again!

The end of our stay at Borumba regretfully arrives and we say our goodbyes to Kate, Giles, Jordan and Mardae as we head in opposite directions.

As for ‘Save Mary, Drown Anna’ – a local catchphrase to save the Mary River by sending water down the many tributaries of the Anna Creek which looked a little on the dry side.

Hanging out with KGB (+ JM)

(14-17 June 2010)

We reach our friends in Caloundra on the day the Socceroos rolled over - boo hoo! However, we are on our big trip and such things as the World Cup are put to the back of our minds, only occasionally seeing snippets of some games.

The big promise of catching up with Kate, Giles, Jordan, Mardae and Bitz is a visit to Australia Zoo for the extended tribe. After much discussion between our tribe of who would like to go, it was only the girls who went to the zoo as Zak and Kaydin wanted to go the beach to play with their new beach toys. This is not to say that the boys weren’t disappointed in not going in, when picking up the girls from the zoo later in the day. I guess they just wanted BOTH the beach and zoo!

Golden Beach was cold and windy, but the boys braved both to make some sandcastles after a session in the beachside playground. The exuberance from the boys was drowned out by the breeze, which in turn was occasionally interrupted by retirees buzzing past in their electric buggies.

The girls (and Mardae) had a great time at Australia Zoo, and apart from seeing crocodiles, lizards, snakes, tassie devils, and their ilk, they also fed kangaroos and enjoyed a pony ride. Certainly more action-packed than the boys venture on the beach.

On a couple of occasions, we drive up to Noosa – and while we find it a sleepy village this time of year, there’s no doubt there’s a definite whiff of Double Bay and Toorak floating about. But, how beautiful is Noosa Heads? And Noosa National Park?

What’s red and black with scales and feathers?

Sunday 13 June, we finally reach Queensland and the temperature increases a notch or two – seriously – it creeps above 20ÂșC not long after we cross the border, which is most welcome after the cool days and cold nights at Mt Warning.

We briefly head up the Gold Coast Hwy but after getting bogged in the traffic, we return to the M1 to continue the journey to the Sunshine Coast, to meet our friends Kate, Giles, Jordan, Mardae and Bitz.

Before we arrive at our friends’, we do an overnight stop in Jowarra Park to be greeted the next morning by a brush turkey pecking at our shoes and a red-bellied black snake just behind the camper-trailer – nothing like wildlife on your doorstep!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Time for thermals, beanies and jackets

(11-12 June 2010)

It was time to move on from Yuraygir NP, and based upon a recommendation from Bjorn and Katrine (a Danish couple nearing the end of their round Oz trip*), we head towards Mt Warning, deviating from the coast and away from the Pacific Hwy, into the mountains above the Tweed River.

Along the way, we lunch in Lismore and go for a walk – Zak is curious by the stairs leading to an ‘adult shop’ asking if we could go up the stairs. Coincidently, he was telling us about his dream earlier at breakfast (really a made-up story) about Lightning Macqueen and Chick Hicks being naked – we didn’t quite comprehend what cars were doing naked, yet he obsessed on nakedness as a key theme in his story.

We dart through Nimbin, where it seems there is a universal dress code of hippyness – strange, as I thought it was more about attitude . . . oh well.

Our first night at Mt Warning was freezing – maybe not down to zero, but damn cold just the same. We all wore thermals to bed and rugged up the best we could. A quick trip after sun down to the amenities meant donning beanies and jackets. This only makes us look forward to reaching the warmer climes asap. Also, we should just maybe avoid the mountains for now!

In the Wollumbin NP, we do the short Lyrebird track walk in the rainforest, located near the start of the track to the summit to Mt Warning – a more strenuous and longer trek for when the tribe are older perhaps. On our walk, we venture through towering trees and bangalows or piccabeens palms, with the hope of spotting either (or both) a lyrebird and a brush turkey. Although we luck out with the fauna in the rainforest, we actually have a brush turkey strut across our path on return to our campsite!

A spate of tartan and kangaroos for breakfast

(8-10 June 2010)

Driving into Maclean around noon on Tuesday, we refuel and finally reach Yuraygir NP (near Brooms Head), finding ourselves a nice campsite. Here we stay for three nights, with the beach behind us and grasslands and Lake Arragan before us. After lunch, I take the tribe for a walk on the beach where they spend time drawing pictures in the sand and playing ‘chicken’ with the waves.

The tribe is fascinated by the night sky filled with what seems to be more stars than we usually see from Springwood. The boys even have camping chairs depicting the constellations which M and I attempt rather poorly in identifying their equivalent in the sky – however we will have time to improve on our knowledge.

Each day, we are joined by kangaroos breakfasting and dining around our campsite – there’s a great big male with some females and juniors, plus at least one joey in a pouch. Also, there is the lively birdlife – such is the cacophony each morning – those we managed to identify include: superb blue wren, grey butcherbird, wattle bird, plover, willie wagtail, king parrot, plus of course the sea gulls on the beach. I even spotted a Brahmin Kite with a freshly caught fish in its talons.

On Thursday, we venture into Maclean for a seafood lunch and some provisions. Maclean wears its Scottish heritage proudly on its telegraph poles a many are adorned with various family tartans making for a colourful streetscape through town. Also, we buy some mince (for spaghetti) from an old school butcher – a sparse display of just the basic cuts and a large electric bone saw taking pride of place behind the counter.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Falling asleep between the trucks

We left Springwood in the early afternoon, with the rain on its way. Joining the typically heavy Friday* afternoon traffic heading north on the F3, we were dealt with some heavy rain as well. However the rain provided some spectacular features by way of countless cascades down the cuttings along the descent towards and ascent away from the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the highlight of our outbound drive, apart from giving the tribe their first experience of a Happy Meal from McDs – which they all enjoyed (as a very special treat mind you).

Due to the rain and the darkness, we succumbed to checking into a cabin at the Pacific Palms Holiday Park in Raymond Terrace. This proved to be a good thing in the end as our Eagle (camper-trailer) somehow had a leak – and setting up camp in the rain and dark was not the way we wished to begin our Big Trip! (yeah we’re a bit soft).

Saturday morning welcomed us without the rain and some blue sky – this was more like it. Our first major destination is to visit and stay with Kate, Giles, Jordan, Mardae and Bitz, who live on the Sunshine Coast, so the plan is to generally drive up the Pacific Hwy.

After stopping in Taree for lunch and provisions, we made it past Port Macquarie before deciding we needed to stop for the night, which we did at Stoney Park, a few kms north of Port. Here we stayed two nights to reassess our packing and begin to reacquaint ourselves with the Eagle and camping life, plus let the tribe run around rather be cooped up in the car. The place had a small playground and a huge trampoline which were both well used by the tribe. Also kangaroos came by the campsite for their morning feed which amused the tribe.

Based on the suggestion from Kate and Giles, our next stop was to be Yuraygir NP near Brooms Head. Unfortunately, thanks to our short daylight hours, we don’t seem to be able to drive far enough so had to make do with a rest area beside the Pacific Hwy just south of Grafton.

‘We’ll have to fall asleep between the trucks’, M said – as the rumble of another semi or 18-wheeler vibrated the Eagle. The trucks provided the serenade to which the tribe had no trouble sleeping – just the usual bickering of who was touching whom as they settled into sharing their space in the queen bed. M and I, on the other hand initially struggled with the trucks thundering past as we had made ourselves more conscious of the noise, although, of course, eventually tiredness overcomes anything.

(* Friday 4 June)

Our Big Trip

We - being Malika, Tim and the tribe of four (Saffiya 5yo, the trio of Soraya, Kaydin and Zakariya 3.5yo) are travelling around Australia.

Setting from Springwood in the Blue Mountains in the first week of June, we are heading north and this blog will be the journal of our trip. Barking mad? Sure. But as many others say, you'd be mad NOT to the trip too!

Keep posted for stories from our travels . . .