Northern NSW , Coffs to Yamba and Brisbane.

Cheery Nomads, rather ordinary


Cheery Nomads, rather ordinary

Wow a 3 months since the last post, how time flies.
Where to start, we travelled south after the Big 4 at Wooli , had a booking at the Sapphire Beach Resort. just outside of Coffs Harbour . Very old tired park Sloowly being renovated. They started with the pool 2 years ago and I must say its stunning and would grace any 5 star hotel, sadly thats where all the good stuff ends.
The roads around the park are quite disgusting , your average car could easily disappear down one never to be seen again. Marg and I had to go to NZL for a few weeks to assist my folks moving into a retirement home leaving behind a house they had lived in for 42 years. We had originally planned to leave the van here and return to the park for another 3 weeks. After checking in and paying for half of our stay the reception asked if I could leave our keys with them in case they had to move the van as 2 days earlier the had a 100mm dump in 2 hours that sent 3 feet of water over
Cheery Nomads

Cheery Nomads

Fancy waterpark Big 4 Yamba, great spot

Fancy waterpark Big 4 Yamba, great spot

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our spot. I did ask for a different spot but they could offer nothing acceptable. The following day another storm beckoned and within an hour the creek behind us breached its banks , so in an already sodden park another flood looked imminent. Still no acceptable alternate sites so we hooked up the van and headed north to Yamba, were able to check into the Big 4 Yamba just south of the Fishing Haven park where we have stayed before. Now Fishing Haven is , mmm say 2.5 star, Big 4 is 5 star with every imaginable extra included in a very reasonable price, nice pools, free kayaks, brilliant camp kitchen and areas set up for games like Boules ( whatever its called) outdoor movies for kids, its was brilliant. Only 4 nights here then up to Brisbane to park the van and head to NZL.
Contacted Sapphire Beach for a refund, no chance, so live and learn, check out each site first and unless its peak do not offer a deposit, take your chances, only pay a week ahead at a time. I know that camps are not responsible for the weather but they can / should offer safe secure sites, clearly the one we were allotted was neither.
Just as a note here, Coffs had 180mm of rain in 4 hours so for sure the park would have flooded again.
So back at last from NZL decided to delay or trip north as weather was atrocious , headed north Thursday 02/04 and arrived after an un eventful trip at our planed stay Cheery Nomads just outside of Maryborough . This is a new place only opened previous November, over the easter long weekend he only managed 30% full. Interesting place owner is an ex farmer slowly selling of his landholdings looking for a pacify income. Sadly I think he got this wrong, he was a wonderful host even got a licensed bar on the premises but he has placed all the vans into the middle of the park on a compacted metal surface all jammed into one another, surrounded by rather nice rural outlook, problem out of your van all you can see is each other. My wife had to go to Melbourne unexpectedly and the thought of staying here on my own was to much, I hitched the van and am now at Woodgate Beach .

Big 4 Wooli

Lovely park and a world away from the other option we had here at Minnie Water. Lovely laid out grounds, neat pool, the obligatory jumping pillow for the kids, free kayaks, mini golf etc, etc. Fabulous camp kitchen with a full licensed bar over which operates all peak and some weekends. Not forgetting the Wooli river meanders through the park, and if you want to have a water view you will need to part with another $15 a night to be riverside.
There is a general store and the Wooli Hotel / Pub right at the gate which does nice meals, what more could you ask for and all for $195 per week off peak, bargain.
I get the impression from the locals the place morphs into complete pandemonium during Xmas and Easter holidays, which most nomadic types loath, so if that’s not going to do it for you best to avoid those dates.

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Brunswick to Minnie Water

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After a very interesting drive from Brunswick we finally arrived at Minnie Waters. We took one of the secondary routes of the Pacific Highway to avoid going through Grafton. Pleasant enough but definitely the road less travelled. We came upon a sharp right turn and were confronted with the Briner Bridge a 110 year old one lane bridge, the sign said simply one lane bridge, it was a steep rise although the picture does not convey that , and you literally could not see if anything was coming toward you. The bridge was made of timber planks with large bolt fixings, the timber was well worn and shiny and offered no traction so we proceeded slowly with a vehicle behind us. As we approaced the crest we saw a red van with some signage for an organic bakery hurtling toward us but not yet on the bridge. He obviously panicked and went left and right and by now was on the bridge wherin his wheels locked and skidded on the timber bridge in a flash he somehow got his vehicle under control and he slid by us. It turns out both the bridge over the Coldstream Creek and the driver of the red van were well known. The bridge is heritage listed and apparently cannot be touched. Its a death trap.
It would be fair to say the roads on this route were fairly disgusting but finally on the approach road to Minnie Water there was an improvement. Upon arrival at Minnie Water would be fair to say we were less than impressed, as the reviews suggested it does not look much from the outside, sadly once in our alloted spot our opinion had not changed. Basically a permanent site of mainly old and run down makeshift cabin / caravan conversions surrounded by piles of junk as per photos. Afterb uncoupling the van we went to check out the area and ended up in Wooli where I managed to secure a nice spot at the Big 4 and 4 star park, almost at the same $$. We checked out the following day. The most surprising thing here is that the park had good reviews ? are we perhaps a little princess like while we are still nomadic virgins ?. Guess time will tell, we certainly let the Clarence Valley Council know of our feelings who run this place.

Final days at Brunswick

Last Days at Brunswick.
Margs dads ashes were placed into the river on the northern side, a gathering of the close family made the journey, it was in the end a light hearted event. Marg had decided she would add to the occasion by making Dons favorite desert “Caramel Tart”, instead of just one standard size we could only get small bite size casings so she had 12 of them to distribute. I actually thought we were meant to eat them but Marg instead cast them into the river to join her Dad. Well I guess the signs please don’t feed the animals does not apply in such circumstances as by the time they had all gone in the river there were literally 100’s of seagulls fighting over them.
So here we are 22nd Feb sitting in our van dodging the rain , the aftermath of cyclone Marsha. It would be fair to say we are over the weather , and the dog to. She insisted on leaving the dry of the van last night and taking her chances under the van. She was a total mess in the morning, and there was simply no way she was coming inside. During a break in the rain a quick walk followed by a wash, I used our very fragrant shower gell in the hope some of the perfume hung around, sadly appears not.
So nothing out of the ordinary in the last 2 weeks here and we cast off Tuesday 24th and head for Minnie Water on the coast about 250 klms south. With some luck the weather will be more settled .

Update

Well 3 days since posting, nothing extraordinary happening I guess. Checked out the Brunswick Markets on Saturday 7th , these were typical touristy type markets, selling mainly crap from China, quite a few stalls with only 1 selling produce, and not a hippy in sight.
Finished with breakfast in Brunswick and back to the van to veg out. Took the beast to Brunswick beach where we wore her out, dead flat beach as you can see with Cape Byron ( home of Bluesfest, sadly not going this year 16414_792876380750068_7387940682735160298_n10897908_793352447369128_6108012139282052421_n10385301_793351930702513_3426465996801411498_n1797543_793351904035849_993393990916579417_n src=”http://australiaontour.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/10447799_792876454083394_5468519539441473087_n-300×224.jpg” alt=”10447799_792876454083394_5468519539441473087_n” width=”300″ height=”224″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-327″ /> ) one of my favorite places in the back ground.
Tried some fishing plenty of decent bites but the place is lousy with small bream, gave up after an hour and when the kid next to me caught a small fish. Was going to ask if I could have it for live bait but didn’t have the heart.
Sunday 8th hit the beach again this time with togs, water is so clear, Bella again had a ball. We later went to the Brunswick Hotel for a session with a local group Fossil Rock who had a great review, reckon they must have written as they were crap, actually they were average until someone started to sing, the murdered everything that needed vocals. Jimmy Barnes’s Last Train out of Sydney was an abomination and a Fleetwood Mac so destroyed could not work out the tune.
So eagerly awaiting the entertainment in Canberra as our woeful prime minister tries to keep his job, we should know in a few hours. Back to Brisbane today as Marg has a final post op check on her arm and we are then essentially free to head off into the wild blue yonder. Although we may end up with an unscheduled month in NZL to assist my folks into more age appropriate accommodation in the next few months.

Something of a home coming

Marg was born in Mullumbimby so we are always happy to pop into this little Queensland town to have a beer at one of the local taverns and see whats happening. We were attracted today by the local Farmers Market which by all accounts is a thriving little centre of micro commerce. Sadly we felt right out of place as I would say 90% were of a hippy / alternate persuasion and the other 10 wannabees. Back in Mullumbimby itself the alternate culture continued but not as evident, guess being so close to Byron and Nimbim would account for all that. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the laid back stress free happy go lucky atmosphere that goes with all that.
One would have to question what all the people at this market did for a living as they could not all be doing what we are doing, if they were surviving on welfare payments they could not possibly afford the ridiculous prices for the so called “organic” produce every other stall was selling. Like $10 for a kilo of carrots WTF !

shit they are only $1.00 in Aldi, maybe there are some other more lucrative forms of agriculture close by.
Back in town we strolled around and picked up a few supplies and Marg twisted my arm to pop into the Middle Pub so named for obvious reasons to check out the beer and lunch menu. For $15 I had a steak that you would be happy to receive at the Breakfast Creek at 3 x the cost, so as Mullum is only 10 klms away we will be back.

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Day 3 in paradise

Took a leisurely stroll with the dog into Brunswick, passed under the bridge from the RV park along the river until we reached the Fisheries Co-oP.  From here was a case of negotiating the no dog signs which are just about everywhere. Interesting that the RV park which is council run accepts dogs, not sure why cause they clearly are not welcome in the CBD or environs itself. Despite this there were dogs allover the place, OK rant over. All very pleasant , had fish and chips which is still sitting heavy in my stomach 3 hours later. Dog collapsed on return and has not been heard of since, she is not getting an afternoon walk regardless. Photos from Margs IPhone , remembered my Sony but sadly all were crap compared to this not entirely sure why .

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Away at last

Damn flat tyre

Damn flat tyre

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Along New Brighton Beach

Along New Brighton Beach

Dear all, well finally feel like we have started, now in Brunswick Heads, not that we have not been here a dozen times but there is something about seeing that sign that says New South Wales Border that makes you feel you are actually going somewhere.

As usual our trip was not without some drama, decided I would check our tyre pressures so pulled into Caltex at Deception Bay around 9am , we had checked the joint out previously as not all garages give easy access with a van , especially a monster like ours. I looked in horror at our kerb side wheels to find our front had blown out. The spare was stashed under our bed in the van buried under all our gear, so while I went digging for that got Marg on the phone to RACQ, we have upgraded to platin m a few months ago and changing wheels is part of the service. About an hour later we were on our way and went via a tyre dealer near North Lakes where we used to live where it cost $50 for 2nd wheel  fitted, bargain. The tyre chap guessed that I had in fact clipped the kerb and named the garage without me telling him as he gets regular business from vehicles meeting the same fate, let alone towing a large van Caravan tyres are always thrown away after 5 years service and never wear out, this had near full tread and 3.5 years left so a 2nd hand unit is no biggie.

On the way down we had to call in at Swifts new premises in Loganholme to have a recall modification done to our gas water heater, this diversion took about 90 minutes. Rather amusing the gas installer making the modification said to me can you turn this unit on so I can test it, I said had no clue as always used the electrical side of the system, so the manager / owner of the place was called, he also had no clue so it then became a case of getting the manuals out, for a while it was the blind leading the blind, eventually it worked. Imagine how many of these things this chap must have sold.

We hit Brunswick at around 3.30pm and were allocated a nice spot looking over the river, very nice indeed and the facilities at this place are all brand new, we are here for 3 weeks.

The temperature down here is around 4 deg cooler than Brisbane and last night was near freezing, the Doona will be coming out tonight for sure.

Had a drive around Brunswick and North Shore beaches today, at high tide the surf was spectacular from the north wall due to the swells coming through from cyclone Ola somewhere in the pacific. Waves were easily 5 meters and a few surfers were reveling in the conditions along with a brave soul who towed them out there on a jetski, the occasional wave was making the spectators at the end of the north wall wet with spray.

The Northern Rivers region of NSW is a favorite and our 3 weeks here will be great, we need to decide if we linger sloowly south when we leave  with a view to spending next summer in Tasmania or get back on track and head north, decisions decisions.