Four weeks in Australia - August 2014

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John&Helen
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Location: Cromwell

Four weeks in Australia - August 2014

Postby John&Helen » Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:54 pm

A daily snapshot of the four weeks we spent in Australia, as seen by the co-pilot.

Background - Helen was never 100% behind MHing in general, anyway I suggest we take a annual 4 week holiday instead of rushed two week trips we had in the past.If it winter,I want to go somewhere warm she cried. That ruled out my original plan, Sydney, following the Murray river to Adelaide, then the GOR to Melbourne. Instead it was to be Adelaide to Darwin. It wasn't until a month before departure, she checked Google earth to see what vast distances we would cover, with, allegedly nothing to see on the way. I knew different, there was plenty to see, just a long way between them. In the end, while the distances were vast, some days we drove 600km, every hour or so there was always a reason to stop, Roadhouses, historic places of interest, scenic locales, small communities, rest areas with info boards etc.

The stats. Airfares - Qtwn - Chch - Melb - Ade, then Dar - Melb - Chch - Qtwn = $3000.
Car and MH hire $3500. We had a Hyundai i20 and a Mercede Sprinter 313 - auto trans. The i20 got 20kl/lt Sprinter got 12.5km/lt. Fuel cost $1000
Accommodation - we stayed in motorcamps, rest areas, roadhouses and National Park,Showgrounds. Costs $480. Excludes 6 nights at hotels.
Food,we ate out most days, sometimes a light lunch, occasionally an evening dinner. Costs $1440
Sightseeing - this cover trinkets, teeshirts to helicopters, $900
Most of the above is in Aussie dollars, the NZ dollar wasn't that far away.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Helen blog...

Adelaide to Darwin - August 2014.

Aug 2nd - Left Cromwell just after 8am, Keith & Barbara drove us to Queenstown airport. Flight to Christchurch was uneventful but quite bumpy over Canterbury, dust clouds being raised from the dry riverbeds.. Flight to Melbourne was delayed. We were supposed to board at 4pm but didn't do so until 6pm..This meant we would miss our connecting flight to Adelaide. Told to go to inquiry desk when we arrived., accommodation would be sorted for us. Good flight across the Tasman but all dark outside. Arrived at airport, cleared customs without a hassle but Virgin Aust service desk and counters closed. Eventually found a tiny out of the way office in the bowels of the building with someone there. Everyone else in our situation had the same difficulty. Taken by shuttle to Best Western Inn and given a $100 meal voucher. Good room. Good sleep after a long day.

Sun 3rd Aug - Up early for breakfast at 6am, fruit cereal, yogurt plus great muffins/pastries. Shuttle bus to airport at 6.30 for flight to Adelaide at 7.30. Arrived in Adelaide, collected rental car, navigated to Princes Lodge Motel, Princes Lodge Motel in Lefevre St in central Adelaide. Gorgeous old villas and Victorian mansions. Walked to central city. Not a lot open, shops don't open until 11am. Coolish temps 8-10c. Saw a Vodafone sign - $50 for a month. Went to investigate. John bought the deal, got a sim card for the month so not using my phone at all. Telecom NZ roaming was going to cost us $10/day. In the afternoon drove out to Hahndorf. Had coffee and German apple cheesecake at The Haus Returning to Adelaide stopped of at Mt Lofty to watch the sunset.

Mon 4th - Drove down to Glenelg - beachfront settlement then down to Victor Harbour . Walked across the pier to Granite Island and took the loop around the island.A shire horse pulls the tram car across the pier every half hour. Drove back to Hahndorf again with plans of having a German meal but the menu was not very exciting plus very expensive. So went back to The Haus and had a large bowl of pumpkin soup and shared another slice of apple cheesecake.

Tue 5th - Walked into Adelaide central again to buy maps. Boarded the free bus and did a loop around the inner city. Found a retail precinct quite close to the Princes Motel so hopped off. Got a lovely chicken pistachio wrap for lunch. Afternoon headed off to Barossa Valley. Grape vines everywhere,just like home but on a much larger scale. Thai restaurant for dinner, very nice..

Wed 6th - Farewell to the Princes Motel. Drove out to collect campervan. I had to drive the rental car following John back into the central city to drop the car off - nerve wracking. Got a bit confused at one stage going through a red pedestrian light, got told off by one pedestrian. Decided to go south to Mt Gambier to see the sink holes & craters. Very long drive. Pub dinner - had grilled baramundi.

Thur 7th.- Visited the lakes at Mt Gambier, then headed east through Casterton, Coleraine, Hamilton then north towards The Grampians National Park. Intended to stay at Halls Gap. Went up one side of the mountain to a lookout and decided to carry on over the mountain rather than return to Halls Gap then climb the pass again tomorrow. Twisty roads but very scenic. Stayed the night in Horsham. Was very cold - need to buy extra blanket for bed.

Fri 8th - Horsham to Mildura. Arrived at Mildura and booked a 2hr cruise on a paddleboat on Murray River. Very relaxing and smooth. Went through locks in the river, good commentary on the way. Back in the campervan, heading west on the Sturt Highway intending to stay in Renmark. Stopped and inspected at a Fruitfly quarantine station on the SA/Vic border, not allow any fruit into or out of Fruitfly exclusion zone. Check was very simple, we could have easily hidden the fruit. Stayed at Paringa Campground just out of Renmark. Very friendly camp..


Sat 9th - Heading NW now to Port Agusta . Followed road to the north of the Murray River, lots of glimpses of the Murray and a few locks.One road consisted of 80km of jarring ripples. Went through many small towns, Burra, Wilmington, then finally arrived at Port Augusta. Camped at campground on the shores of the Spencer Gulf.

Sun 10th - Visited Arid Lands Botanic Gardens just out of P.Ag, saw Sturts Desert Pea - very impressive flower. Heading to Woomera, passed by Salt Lakes, saw a mirage in the mid afternoon, getting into desert country. Woomera is a very quiet town, reminded me of Twizel after the MOW departed. Seemingly lots of empty houses and vacant sections between.. Spent some time at the info center.John spent time looking at display of rockets and aircraft.

Mon 11th - Woomera to Coober Pedy. Just out of Woomera we nearly ran into an emu and her 6 chicks. Well camouflaged, they appeared out of nowhere!. Fortunately we didn't hit them and they crossed the road safely. Saw another lone emu a little further on. Lots of dead kangaroos on the side of the road but we have yet to see a live one. Real outback country but subtle changes in landscape & vegetation all the time. Arrived at Coober Pedy - free internet at Info Center so updated emails and FB. Walked around town, every other shop selling Opals, all very expensive. Supermarket very expensive - no deli for cold meats or salad. Visited underground shops and church. The town is dry and dusty, sun blistered paint, broken and uneven footpaths, nothing lining up, dust and rubbish everywhere. What a disappointment.

Tue 12th - Left Coober Pedy, stopped off at The Breakaways Lookout - looks towards the Painted desert. Saw a live kangaroo in the distance.Big day driving. Stopped for the night at Kulgera Roadhouse.Had a meal in the pub here.John had a camel burger,I had a N.T. crocodile - was a bit like tough chewy chicken. Another couple joined us for tea - Liz & Tim from Tasmania. also Darwin bound in a bright yellow campervan.

Wed 13th - 319km to Ayres Rock /Uluru. Mt Conner a very impressive uplifted rock on the way. Booked into Ayres Rock Resort Campground, $46/night then went out to the rock. Need a pass (3day) to get in. Did the Mala Walk - lots of cultural notes, mens cave, womens cave,old peoples cave. Met up again with Tim & Liz - joined them for tea but let it a little too late to see the sun setting on Uluru - was all over by the time we got there. Back for coffee in our van - four of us. Uluru does look a little like a reclining elephant with all its folds of rock/skin. Filled up with diesel $2.60/lt !!!

Thur 14th - Up at 6am this morning determined not to miss sunrise on Uluru. Just made it. Kata Tjula (Katta-jew-tah) The Olgas 50km away from Uluru. Very impressive domes of rock. Did quite a long walk through the Valley of the Winds through gorges and valleys. Very impressive then it was off again on a very long trip to Kings Canyon.Once again we met up with Tim & Liz. Had the option of doing the Rim Walk - required going up a very steep climb to start with, then walking along the Rim of the Canyon. That walk would have taken 4hrs. Decided a bit of indulgence was allowed, so booked a 15min helicopter ride.

Fri 15th - Helicopter ride at 9.45 so no rush this morning. Enjoyed the R44 helicopter ride. Then went on a 1hr creek walk looking up the valley floor to the walls of the Canyon. Tonight's stop would be Alice Springs. There was a much shorter way but it was on unsealed roads for 100km - rental vehicles not allowed and dicey if we broke down. So we headed back down the Lassiter Highway (108km) then head north towards The Alice. Did a side road detour to Henbury Meteorite Craters - 11km of rough, corrugated gravel road. So glad we didn't do the 100km gravel shortcut. Walked around the Craters then headed towards Stuarts Well Roadhouse for the night, 80km short of The Alice.

Sat 16th - Traveled the 80km north to Alice Springs. We changed into our shorts and sandals at last although its still a bit on the cool side first thing in the morning but slightly warmer than its been further south. Arrived in Alice Springs, civilization, even traffic lights. First stop was Alice Springs Desert Park - a wildlife park, great experience. Attended the Flying Birds talk, then saw kangaroos, sleeping/basking in the midday sun. Lady/aboriginal presenter very interesting showing us the different kinds of plants and their uses. The seeds of an Aussie Mistletoe, squeezed out of their pod, suck the sweet surrounding gel and spit out the seed. Sticky,mildly sweet. Asked about the Paddy Melons we had seen on the roadsides - she told us she's never eaten them, they were very bitter, could make you dehydrated. Wildlife didn't touch them either. Kept doing the circuit of the park. Came across two rangers exercising the dingoes. We were allowed to touch/pat them. They were very friendly even got a pic of "Digger"giving John a kiss. One of the best exhibits was the nocturnal house, dark inside but oh so many creatures we would never see in the wild - some mouse & rat like but marsupials. Spent ages in the dark there. Lots of beautiful colourful birds there too.. Found our way into the town center to get supplies. Noticed a huge number of Aboriginal people about. Booked into a campground - gott the last site available. Stripped the bed, washed the sheets and clothes. Hard to get rid of all the red dust. Caught up on emails & FB. Salad in van for tea.

Sun 17th. Yeh, a non travel day - somewhat. A day around Alice Springs surrounds. First stop was the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. Very substantial solid buildings. Next traveled out to the West MacDonald Ranges visiting Simpsons Gap, Stanley Chasm, last stop was Ellery Creek Big Hole a great swimming spot but weather was not hot enough for us. Quite a distance to drive back into Alice Springs. Took the van to the top of Anzac Hill - memorial to all the soldiers in all/many wars. 360 degree views over Alice Springs. Sad to say goodbye, there was so much else we could have done.

Mon 18th - Away early for a long days travel, destination Tennant Creek - 530km away. First stop, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, not quite as impressive as on the Pacific Highway at Townsville, Queensland. Long stretches of driving, roadhouses every few hundred km but when you've seen one they don't change much. Food either greasy or white bread expensive sandwiches.Easier to make sandwiches and coffee in the campervan. First interesting stop, Barrow Creek Telegraph Station - another substantial solid building well maintained, not quite as setup with furniture and equipment as in Alice Springs. Wycliffe Well Pub/Roadhouse a bit naff. Said to be the UFO center of Australia. Devils Marbles well worth a stop. Even thought I could spot the Marble that had been returned from Stuarts Memorial in Alice. Was expecting Tenant Creek to be another dump sort of town, but was pleasantly surprised. Clean, tidy, variety of shops. Visited Battery Hill Mining Center. Unfortunately mining tours were closed due to health and safety audit. Stayed in nice Campground - one of the sweetest smelling ablution blocks we have used so far. Went to the Jimmy Hooker Bushman evening around an open fire. Jimmy told stories of his childhood in the bush. Brewed up native lemon grass billy tea served up with damper. Then he showed us features of bush tucker,bush coconut,plants used for medicinal purposes. Really interested in bite relief - wattle pods rubbed together in hands with water to form a soap. Spread on any bite - insect, spider or snake, said to take the pain away.

Tue 19th - Another 500km drive today. Again not a lot to see. Weather warmer though - need the AC on while travelling. Visited the last Telegraph Station - John thought it was a private residence it looked so modern. Huge dugout cellar, all concrete lined for storing food. Most towns fairly forgettable. A sad story of an 8yr old boy missing in the bush in the 1990's in Dunmara. Had been told never to cross the Stuart Highway and always follow the sun home. One day he followed his father on a motorcycle chasing an escaped horse and crossed the highway. Following the sun took him deeper into the bush rather than home. A massive manhunt followed, 1200 people searching in 50C heat, tourists, locals, truck drivers all out searching. 250 searchers hospitalized due to heat stress . Sadly found 23 days later about 25km into the bush. Tried to find historic WW2 hospital marked on map, was signposted on roadside but couldn't find anything and weren't tempted to drive an unknown distance down red dusty tracks that make up the side roads. Destination for the day was Mataranka. Arrived just before 4pm. Found a campsite, then went to explore the thermal springs. Soon back in the van to change into swim gear. Spent a good 1.5 hrs just soaking up the 34c thermal pool. Had baramundi at the "Resort" pub, sharing pan fried and tempura battered. Both very nice but the pan fried was delicious.. Got our torches and went down to the river, spotted turtles, fish and freshwater crocodiles. Returning to campsite, stood around talking at a campfire. Very nice evening, warm, starry skies and warmth of the fire. Kangaroos hopping through the camp. There had been a small group of semi tame roos at the pools during the day. One man had a jar of food, he kept throwing at them. We spotted six of them at the thermal pool in the dark. Lots of termite mounds on the side of the highway, many dressed up with teeshirts and caps. Just before Mataranka we drove through two bush fires, not raging or scary, just gentle flames smoldering.

Wed 20th - Cruisy morning. Up and had breakfast, then walked over to view replica Elsey Homestead constructed for the movie "We of the Never Never". Drove down the road end to see the Roper river, then headed to Mataranka township. Bustling little town.1000 Motorhomes pass through here every day. Lots of hibiscus & bougainvillea. Best cafe fare since Adelaide. Visited Bitter Springs, much better than those at Mataranka Resort, lot more natural and open. Camp nearby too. Still too deep for comfort, wished I had bought a noodle so I could have ventured further.A very pleasant 32c and 34c out of the water, little humidity so very pleasant .Short hop to Katherine, only 100km. Stopped off at Cutta Cutta Caves but didn't have enough cash to take tour, no EFTPOS there. Stayed at Shady Lane Tourist Park.Booked dawn cruise on Katherine Gorge tomorrow. so have to be away 6.15am in the morning.

Thur 21 - Alarm at 6am, quickly got up, dressed and crept quietly out of camp. Saw lots of roos and wallabies on the roadside, didn't hit any. Its no wonder there's so much road kill, they just bound across the road, and with cars doing the 130km speed limit, there's no chance of stopping in time. Arrived at carpark in plenty of time. Made and ate our breakfast. Bus loads of tourists arrive, we are again given a small bowl of mixed fresh fruit,orange, kiwi fruit, three bits of melon,plus tea/coffee. Boarded the first boat and cruised quietly and calmly up the first gorge as the sun rose above the towering cliffs. Next had to moor the boat, walk along a paved path through rocks to the next gorge,passing aboriginal paintings on the wall, signs about dreamtime stories. Boarded second boat for the next gorge. On the return we watch a falcon out hunting in the gorge. Skipper pointed out its nest in the rock walls complete with chick. There are freshwater crocs in the river but too cold in the mornings for them to be out. They come out in the heat of the afternoons to warm their bodies up. After disembarking we walked up to a scenic lookout just in time to see the second tour group head out, making a great photo. Drove back to Katherine to resupply at supermarket. Bought two noodles and headed to Katherine Hot Springs.Only 32C here, not quite as nice as Bitter Springs but still very natural, free and non-commercialized. Noodles give great buoyancy in the water.. Lunch was thank to Brumbys Bakery, chicken salad sandwiches and cranberry + turkey wrap - nice. Next, out to Edith Falls. Getting hot, 33c so a little too hot to walk up to the 2nd + 3rd pools and falls. Large pool/ponds of water but cold, would have been good once immersed, but we already had our swim & wet togs. Decided to continue driving through the afternoon heat as we could use the AC, then get as far as possible to tomorrow's destination, Litchfield Nat Park. We stayed the night at Adelaide River Showgrounds. Another beautiful evening, warm and still, owl hooting in the trees.

Fri 22nd - Woke a 6am,.John pulled back the curtains to watch the sunrise.After breakfast headed off north towards Batchelor then Litchfield. Took a walk around Batchelor, viewing accommodation buildings when it was the base of a uranium mining area. Also had a mini replica castle.
First stop in Litchfield was the magnetic termite mounts - all aligned North to South. Looked like a little graveyard with the mounds being the gravestones.
Next to Buley Rockhole. Sign in carpark: "If carpark is full then Buley is full, come back later."An amazing place - a series of short waterfalls ( only about 3-4 feet high) with deep pools below - great for swimming which dozens of people were doing.
Next on to Florence Falls. Carpark is at the top of the falls and you look down on them.A winding track then 135 steps takes you down to the large pool at the base of the double falls. Clambered over some rocks the through shallow water to get a good view of the falls. Again lots of people swimming including a lady who would have easily been 80. We sat on the rocks with out feet dangling in the water for quite a while.
Tolmer Falls next - no swimming there- you could only look down o the pool below the falls. But above and back from the falls about 50 metres was a natural rock arch/bridge.
Ended up at Wangi Falls, another double water fall and large pool. Parked can in the camp ground then had lunch and John a snooze. Wandered back to the Falls at 3pm in our togs. After the thermal springs, these waters were cold.John decided to sit this one out. I eventually braved the water and once in, it was very pleasant. Moved half way across the pool until it got too deep, even with a noodle. Nice sandy bottom. Found it was not cold getting out of the water - air temperature was warmer than the water temperature.

Saturday 23rd
Woke up this morning cold in bed. Outside temp was quite cool. After brekkie walked back down to Wangi Falls to take a pic before sunrise of where I'd swum yesterday. Because the air temp was so cool (10C) the water temp felt quite warm.
Off to explore the remainder of the sites in the park.
The Cascades - did the lower Cascades walk - was very rough rock hopping for some parts. Pretty but not as much so as Buley Rockhole. Although would be really impressive in the Wet (but then it is closed because very dangerous).
Getting hot - too hot for climbing and walking.
Popped in at Walker Creek but would have had to do quite a long walk to get anywhere - too hot!
Last stop: Bamboo Creek (abandoned/ruins) Tin Mine. Flakes of tin to be found all over pathways. John took two home as a memento.
Turned around to double back out of park.Stopped in Batchelor - great little general store and bought milk, bread, water and a T-shirt! Lunch at Butterfly Garden.
Going further NW - destination Berry Springs. Parked up in caravan park - first time on grass. Had a refreshing shower ( nice clean toilet block), caught up on emails and FB, named all my pics downloaded to computer and did some handwashing. Leaving visit to springs until tomorrow morning as its about 3-4 km from the campground.Nice just to relax in lovely warm weather under the shade of a tree.
Only 50km away from Darwin.

Sunday 24th
Have decided to stay put in this campground and travel in each day to Darwin. Seemingly campground fees in Darwin exorbitantly high. Left picnic table in situ to reserve our spot.
Found Berry Springs Pool - enormous water area. Water tepid. Will return tomorrow morning for a dip - kids will be in school.
Headed off into Darwin and found info centre. Then navigated to museum. Very interesting exhibit on Cyclone Tracey. Lunch at museum cafe then walked slowly along a path to Mindil Beach. Stalls for market setting up but didn't really open till 4pm. Met up with Tim and Liz and chatted with them for about an hour. John bought a coconut shake. Said our goodbyes to Tim and Liz then wandered around the stalls that were open. Disappointing. Don't really know why people rave about these markets. Returned along walkway to van to return down to Berry Springs.
Darwin a very modern city. Everything was flattened in 1974 so there is very little older than 40 years. Pleasant temp back at camp under shade of tree

Monday 25th
Dip in Barry Springs. Shallow tepid water near the Kangaroo Falls. Very pleasant; sometimes little fish came and nipped at our feet.
A day in Darwin - not too much to write about. John visited Aviation Heritage Centre for about an hour. I was quite happy to stay in the van and read my Kindle. John got another polo shirt and I purchased a "I survived croc country" cap. Navigate to Casuarina shopping complex, said to be huge - was quite big but had all the same stores as we have in NZ. Purchased zilch. Checked out Cullen Bay - very quiet, few retail shops open????? Discovered one of Darwin's nob areas - lovely houses surrounding the waterfront.
Back to campground to sit in shade.

Tuesday 26th
25th Wedding Anniversary.
What to do today? Certainly not going back into Darwin. Consulted our "Exploring the Stuart Highway" book and decide to go a little way on the Arnhem Highway.First stop though was another dip in Berry Springs.Tried the main pool first - very deep water but "OK" with a noodle, but soon retreated back to shallower upper pool near falls.
Ten off east. First stop a small village called Humpty Doo. Woolworths supermarket there so had a look around village and purchased some milk, water and powerade.
On to the Fogg Dam, passing by a huge bush fire - not threatening though.
Walkway across Fogg Dam wall was closed to walking due to croc threat but able to drive across. Lots of birdlife and water lillies.
Head off to "Window on the Wetlands" visitor centre. Interesting display of wetland life, plus good Ranger talk. Centre built on top of Beatrice Hill - a good spot overlooking wetlands with 360 view. Bush fire had spread - great plumes of smoke visible.
Visited Adelaide River cruises depot and had coffee and muffin and watched cruise boat depart. Drove back through lots of smoke and saw quite a few flaming areas.
Must have been bitten by some insects - legs quite itchy but wattle seed "soaped" up did ten to stop the itching.
Drove back into Darwin and parked up at Aquascene Fish Feeding. Very interesting, lots of different varieties of fish - cat fish, stingrays, jack fish etc, all come in at high tide to be fed. Some fish will eat bread out of your hand. Commentary throughout the feeding.
Seeing as we were so close we decided to go to Seafood on Cullen for dinner - amazing! Surf and turf smorgasbord. Food well presented and cooked, did not taste mass produced. Eye fillet steak perfectly tender. Delicious glass of moscato as we watched the sun set over the ocean.
A good day.

Wednesday 27th
Pack up day. Stripped bed and packed bags. Left unwanted donations at camp - washing liquid, etc. Berry Springs next stop to leave our noodles. Parked there in shade for a while reading then headed off into city. Stopped off at a "garden centre" I had seen previously. Was actually a landscaping centre with lots of sculpture including a huge dinosaur (realistic size) and stone letter boxes. Had iced chai latte and vanilla square at cafe there.
On into city to meet Tim and Liz for lunch on another waterfront.
Returned campervan and took taxi to airport.Waiting around for checking-in to open. Virgin Australia do not run on time. Checking in counter supposed to open at 4.30. We and many other started queuing then but no-one turned up till 4.50 and then only one person who we discovered had to check everyone in, then get upstairs to check everyone onto plane.
All OK boarding plane - 5 hour flight. Provided with sandwich on flight.
Got close to Melbourne when captain informs us there is fog over Melbourne airport and a queue of planes waiting to land, but not to worry we had enough fuel to divert to Adelaide if necessary. "Not again!" we thought. After maintaining a holding pattern for about 30 minutes we got the all clear to land. Taxis well organised at airport. Eventually found out accommodation - City Tempo Short-stay Apartments in inner cit and hit the sack - comfy bed.

Thursday 28th
Still a bit foggy this morning but we set off - in much cooler air - to walk to Queen Victoria Markets. I was expecting to be disappointed but pleasantly surprised. Not just " tack and tinsel", lots of interesting items on sale.Fruit and vege market enormous and prices so much lower than supermarkets.No chocolate pudding fruit though. Coffee and a bite to eat at a market cafe - no breakfast this morning.Then walked through CBD, down towards info centre and large malls. Ended up looking over Yarra RIver and noticed cycles for hire and a boat cruise. One cruise was leaving in 5 minutes so we jumped aboard. Went down towards port area under lots of bridges - 3 of those bridges we had to duck our heads as the boat was soooo close to the bridge deck. Very relaxing cruise. Walked back to hotel for a snooze before being picked up by Jenny and husband Mike. Went to Lygon Streeet - Italian quarter - for enjoyable dinner then gellati.
Mike and Jenny then took us on a nighttime tour of central Melbourne and gave us recommendations for sightseeing on Friday. Pleasant mild evening - even able to dine outside under a heater.

Friday29th
Head off at about 9am to do the City Circle Free Tram around the central city, only to discover it didn't start operating until 10am. Went inside a large mall, only to discover most shops don't open until 10 too. OK window shopping. Found an Esprit shop, waited til it opened but nothing caught my eye. Clock in centre of mall amazing. It opened up and had Australian birds inside, plus figurines, all moved and tweeted as the clock played Waltzing Matilda.
Caught tram and went around circle. Decided on a second time around to hop off tat the Old Gaol. Wasn't free to go in so looked around outside. Walked down towards Flinders St. Went into the Old Treasury Building and found where all the gold was stored in vaults below ground.
Kept on walking to find Cook's Cottage - childhood home of Capt Cook which was bought by a Melbourne philanthropist, dismantled in the UK and shipped out to Melbourne and reconstructed. Map in info centre there highlighted (with lights) Cook's 3 voyages to the Pacific - he spent much more time in NZ than in Oz.
Walked back to Flinders Street Station expecting to find cafes but none - is only a transit station.
Lunch (about 2pm) back at first mall we went into in morning then back to hotel for snooze. Early shower then repacked bags.

Saturday 30th
Early morning - taxi arrived promptly at 6am and took us out to airport.

No hassles going through customs but was a long queue to wait in.
Flying into Queenstown airport amazing - looks as if you could just reach out window and touch the hillside. Barb and Keith there to meet us. Bag collection was quick and easy and loaded up car and set off for home.We passed by Pearson Road at about 5.50pm and Barb turned back in there to see if we could pick up the fur kids. Don't think Jan was too impressed us arriving then with only 5 mins to spare before closing. Lily and Tarn beautifully bathed and groomed and excited to see us, Jinx too. Home - all unchanged, animals pleased to be home.

John - Still suffering withdraw symptoms, writing this up,looking at all the lovely locations we went to, people we met, weather we enjoyed. Just this morning, walking the Whites to Historic Cromwell Town, I saw the exact camper we had in Aussie. Got talking to the couple therin, they were from WA spending four weeks travelling the SI. Too many reminders and memories still too raw...

Link to Picaso photo album to come.
John & Helen
Hilux 3lt diesel towing "Lilys Pad" (X-treme 273, 5th Wheeler). CAP - 8683 at holidayhouses 48371.

Adventure is not in the guide book and beauty is not on the map, seek and ye shall find.

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Karmann57
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Re: Four weeks in Australia - August 2014

Postby Karmann57 » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:55 pm

John&helen, great diary of your trip, brings back memories of similar trips we did in the same type of rental van around Australia. Our first trip about 10 years ago was Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra back to Sydney. We did a coach tour from Broome to Darwin so recognise a lot of your stops up there as we'll. having done 3 camper van trips in Aussie, we came home from our latest one a couple of years ago and decided to buy our own Vw Lt35 van here and loving it.
Terry and Elaine
NZMCA #49610
2006 VW LT35 (Coach craft). 160W Portable solar thru Votronic MPPT controller. 1957 VW Karmann Ghia

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John&Helen
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Re: Four weeks in Australia - August 2014

Postby John&Helen » Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:24 am

John & Helen
Hilux 3lt diesel towing "Lilys Pad" (X-treme 273, 5th Wheeler). CAP - 8683 at holidayhouses 48371.

Adventure is not in the guide book and beauty is not on the map, seek and ye shall find.


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