Coffin Bay National Park

Coffin Bay National Park

An unexpected extended stay in the Port Lincoln area lead us to explore the National Park in Coffin Bay. For a National Park we never intended to look through. We ended up staying 4 nights and loved it! Cost $12/night to camp (plus National Park fees)

Fun filled days of driving around the coast line and through the rugged bush tracks. Playing on the sand dunes. Fishing and actually catching fish!!! Friendly roos coming to our door, emus and their babies wondering around the campgrounds. Great walking tracks and the highlight being were pretty much the only ones here except for another travelling family with kids the same age 😍.

Kids had the best of times playing together. I must admit we rather enjoyed our time spent with these guys too. Extra bonus as It’s always great having others to go 4WD exploring with.. just incase 👌

I would absolutely love to come back to this place when it’s warmer. The perfectly blue ocean water with stunning white sandy beaches was so worth the hour and half 4×4 drive! It almost made me want to dip my toes in… almost. The freezing icy winds made me think twice pretty quickly! Instead we lit a fire and watched the boys catch some fish. #onedayweshould come back! Would be amazing in summer 😍

Top Things to do in Port Douglas

Do you only have time for a quick weekend away in PORT DOUGLAS and want to know what NOT to miss while here? Have a read of what we got up to while we were in the area….

Day One:

Check-in to the Big 4 Glengarry Holiday Park, situated approximately 7km from the town centre and a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy a family friendly atmosphere. A five slide water park, a jumping pillow and playground to keep the kids entertained and a heated salt water pool for the adults to enjoy while cooking up a feast in the BBQ area.

Once we were all set up at our accommodation, we drove into the town centre to check out what Port Douglas had to offer. There are plenty of café’s and pubs to grab a bite to eat, take a walk along Four Mile Beach and stop in at the Surf Life Saving Club along the Esplanade for a refreshment as the kids burn off some energy in their playground.

Drive or walk up to the Flagstaff Hill Lookout where you can view Four Mile Beach in all it’s beautiful glory and don’t forget to stop by the Marina on your way home.

Day Two:

Today is all about discovering The Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world at approximately 150 million years old. Within a 30-minute drive from your Big 4 accommodation, you will find the Daintree River Ferry. No bookings required and $26 return per vehicle (4WD not necessary), it only takes a few minutes to get across to the rainforest.

Once across, we drove to the Discovery Centre to experience the Aerial Walkway and 23m high Canopy Tower which is a fantastic way to view the beauty of the rainforest. For $35 per adult and $16 per child (5-17 years), your admission also includes a self-guided audio tour which is very kid friendly and provides an informative way to explore the environment at your own pace. Highly recommended!

          

By this stage, it was time for lunch so we drove on to Cape Tribulation, where rainforest meets the reef. On the way back from Cape Tribulation, visit the ice creamery for an afternoon treat and stop by Mount Alexandra Lookout for a stunning view of the Daintree River Mouth. If you have some more time to spend here, you may also consider jumping aboard a Croc cruise which takes you along the Daintree River. 

      

The Daintree Rainforest has everything to offer for the wilderness lover; plenty of hiking tracks, golden beaches, camping sites, swimming holes, jungle surfing and lots of wildlife to spot along the way – a croc, a python or maybe even a Cassowary roaming around.

Day Three:

Today was check-out day but that didn’t stop up from visiting Mossman Gorge so we hooked up and drove an easy 20-minutes to the Gorge Centre. You will find that there is a large section dedicated for RV Parking.

From the Gorge Centre, you can catch the shuttle bus return for $9.50 per adult or $4.50 per child (5-15 years), which takes you right into the heart of the Gorge.

This magical rainforest is something not to be missed. The boardwalk leads to a beautiful gorge with crystal clear water, a swinging suspension bridge and a 2.8km circuit where you can revel in untouched beauty.

                                    Port Douglas truly is a magnificent destination that delivers reef and rainforest.                            

        Eat, Explore and Enjoy!

IS THIS THE BEST LOW COST CAMPGROUND in South Australia?? We think so!!

IS THIS THE BEST LOW-COST CAMPGROUND in South Australia?? We think so!!

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Picture driving down the road and seeing stunning farm land and white sand dunes in the distance… A sheep or 2 a k-kangaroo. (Yep I went there). This very Aussie ‘Mikkira Station’ had nearly everything. Wild emus, tonnes of Kangaroos and a Koala 🐨 up nearly every tree in the campsite. After just a short walk you’ll find beautiful historic sites and buildings you can even enter. There’s a real toilet and a hot shower for those who need.

This place was well and truly worth the $25/night price tag. A fantastic place for a true blue Aussie outback experience and only 25mins from Port Lincoln!

*Please note- We definitely don’t recommend approaching the koalas. We were lucky enough to stumble across one tame enough for us to touch but these are wild animals.

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Why we weighed our caravan before leaving onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

Why we weighed our caravan before leaving onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

We are always being asked why we weighed our van before we left to go on our trip around Australia. We found most people assumed it had everything to do with going on board the Spirit of Tasmania. When in fact, it didn’t.

It’s taken many, many times for Gibbo to explain all the caravan weights to me to get to a point of ‘basic understanding’ as it gets extremely technical with so many different weights to take into account so here’s my ‘simplified version’ of explaining caravan weights without getting ‘too technical’. All these weight specifications are a legal requirement set by manufacturers for everyone’s safety!

Tare Mass- When you buy a caravan empty (no water onboard, no kitchenware, no clothes, no equipment etc). Your empty weight is your tare mass (eg. 2400kg)

ATM (Aggregated Trailer Mass)- The most your van can ever weigh (eg. 3000kg)

Payload- the difference between those^ two weights is the amount of weight that can be added (clothes, food, equipment, water, gas etc) so in this case, it would be 600kg worth of ‘stuff’ allowed – a very generous payload in most cases. *Most new vans we looked at were a 400kg payload.

Tow Ball mass- When you hitch/connect your van to your car some of the weight is then transferred to your tow Ball which makes it part of you cars weight. Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) is the most load you can have on the wheels of the caravan when hitched to your car.

You then have to look at your car/utes Tare Mass and GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass- same as ATM but for a car/ute)

Your Car can’t be over its GVM –

Your Van can’t be over ATM –

and then it also can’t be over the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) – the overall weight of the car and the van together

This is why it was so important for us to weigh our car and van before we left. 😊

*There’s a bunch of other weights to take into account such as your vehicle maximum tow rating, aggregated trailer mass, tow ball weight, towbar capacity, maximum axle group ratings but that’s when it all starts going over the top of my head and I leave it up to Gibbo 😉

16 Travel Apps for your Big Lap around Australia

 

Before you take off on an epic tour around Australia, be sure to download the Best Travel Apps on the market. There is already so much you need to consider before you set off on your Big Lap. Here is a list of apps to help make your journey safer, smoother, and more fun! Written by: Mountain Sun Sea

Campsite Apps

You may have a hard copy of the Australian campsites from Camps Australia Wide 8 (Camps Australia Wide 9 is due in February 2017) – be sure to download both the Camps Australia Wide and Wikicamps apps.

  1. Camps Australia Wide is $7.99 to download but it contains indispensable information about campsites in addition to photographs of listings from both the Camps Australia Wide guide as well as the Caravan Parks Australia Wide guide.

camps8

Camps Australia Wide – Android

Camps Australia Wide – iTunes

  1. Wikicamps basic version is free, but the full version can be downloaded for a small one-time fee of $7.99 that will grant you access to the app for a lifetime. Wikicamps is a user generated database which is kept up-to-date with the latest information. It works completely offline so you don’t have to worry about signal or a wifi connection.

You just simply download all the content you need to your device before you go! You will find information about free and paid campsites and whether they are accessible for caravans or camper trailers. It shows you where there are caravan parks, road side rest areas, public dump points and much more! Wikicamps uses your location to show you nearby points of interest so you won’t miss anything cool on your journey.

wikicamps

Wikicamps Australia – iTunes

Wikicamps Australia – Android

 

Tracking Apps

  1. TrackMyTour is great for keeping family members up-to-date on your location. This app uses GPS tracking to make it easy for you to highlight places on your trip and send photos or other fun updates to loved ones at home. It’s a great app for travel in terms of keeping in touch with friends and family. The TrackMyTour app and website are free to use, but you are restricted to the number of maps. If you wish to create more maps you can then purchase an upgrade from within the app. TrackMyTour is only compatible on iTunes.

trackmytour                    trackmytrip

TrackMyTour – iTunes

The android version is called TrackMyTrip

  1. HemaExplorer – 4WD Maps costs $29.99. This app also uses GPS tracking and it literally follows the exact roads you drive. You do need to purchase maps as they only provide the most basic maps. You can upgrade to HEMA Offline for $99.99 if you are looking at navigating over extremely remote areas, with a real-time offline GPS tracking system and claims to have Australia’s best topographic mapping.

hema

Hema Explorer – Australia – iTunes

Hema Explorer – Australia – Android

WikiCamps also allows you plan your trip and if you need to – move each place as you travel. You can also view your route to help you find and plan other stops along the way. (See link above).

Budgeting Apps

  1. Track-Every-Coin is an app designed for tracking expenses in daily life as well as while traveling. It’s free for download just like you’d expect from a good expense tracker and is a very popular app for travellers.

trackeverycoin

Trail Wallet is a travel budget app designed for iPhones or iPads. It’s free for the first 25 items you track, but then you have to pay to use it.

You could also use Expedition Australia Budget Tracking spreadsheet, hardcopy, or just a book to keep track of your travel expenses.

Fuel App

  1. Fuel Map is a user generated database where the information is added and edited by users showing petrol stations and fuel prices. This app keeps the travellers around Australians in-the-know about the cost of petrol throughout the country.

fuel-map

Fuel Map – iTunes

Fuel Map – Android

Weather Apps

 To keep track of inclement weather conditions en-route to your destination!

  1. Bureau of Meteorology
  1. Weatherzone

weatherzone

Reminder Apps

Use these reminder apps to remember all the important dates and times like when to re-register your car and caravan. It’s easy to lose track of important dates when on the road day-after-day!

  1. Due – iTunes for your iPhone or iPad and E-Reminder for Android

First Aid App

  1. The Red Cross First Aid app is free and it offers access to life-saving information in an emergency.

The Red Cross First Aid app is great to have in addition to your first aid kit.

first-aid

Education Apps

  1. Australian Wildflowers is an essential field guide with more than 70 of the most common species of wildflowers found in our beautiful country! This app will assist you in quickly identifying flowering plants and is a highly valuable reference tool in all locations. This app is well structured and easy to navigate. Perfect for field guides that use picture recognition where every flower in Australian Wildflowers is described in detail showing information about its structure, location, common name, scientific name, botanical family and flowering time. You get all this information with no internet connection – and all images and information is available in real time. Australian Wildflowers is currently only available on iTunes.

aust-wildflower

Australian Wildflowers – iTunes

  1. Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds app has been called the most comprehensive field guide to Australian birds available in the market today It is complimented by the eGuide featuring an extensive and detailed descriptions of almost all bird species including songs and calls, measurements and breeding behaviour.

The app allows you to save your sightings to a list to include the date and location with room for notes. There is a free ‘lite’ version of the app, but it only lists a handful of the 790 species that the full version has.

Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds – iTunes Cost is $29.99

Michael Morcombe’s Field Guide to Australian Birds – Android Cost is $28.60

  1. Snakes of Australia is a great app to compliment the First Aid app. Snakes of Australia is a comprehensive electronic field guide of 167 species of Australian snakes. Detailing species profiles including photos, distribution maps, description of key characters, danger rating, similar species, conservation, etymology, pronunciation and more. The great part about this app is the introductory chapters on key aspects of identifying snakes, snake venoms and first aid, and snake biology. No network connection is needed when using this app.

The scale count feature is very handy as is the “filter by location” function cross-checks your location (via iPhone GPS) and shows you only snakes that are likely to occur within your area. This app is currently only available on iTunes

snakes

Snakes of Australia – iTunes Cost is $9.99

  1. Australia is home to many of the world’s most venomous snakes, spiders and marine animals. The free Australian Bites and Stings is an app providing education to our Australian community and will be of use to anyone planning to be out in Australia’s great outdoors – whether it be on the beach, camping, bushwalking or just playing out in a back yard!

A recent study found that despite the vast array of venomous creatures in Australia, the majority of people don’t know what to do if they’re unfortunate enough to be bitten or stung by one. This app is a must have if you are travelling with young children and is also a great compliment to the First Aid app.

bites-and-stings

Australian Bites and Stings

Exploring Apps

  1. GoSkyWatch is a trademark of Apple and as such are only available on iTunes. This app is essential for those nights where you are sitting around the campfire and looking up at the stars! You just point your phone to the sky and start exploring! No buttons to press or selecting modes. GoSkyWatch has a unique rotation scheme with touchless navigation, a red light mode for night vision and magnitude adjustment for great viewing conditions. Planets will show with relative brightness for easy identification, a heads-up information display and a full 180 degree display to see at a glance what is in the sky and where. If you are looking for a particular planet or star – just use the finder and let the arrow guide the way.

goskywatch

Sky Map is the Android alternative with fewer features.

  1. Spyglass is like an advanced compass/GPS Navigation App for iPhone and iPad. Spyglass can be used in the car, on a bike, in a boat, on an aircraft, or walking compass. Spyglass is essential for every traveller! Packed with so many useful tools such as a hi-tech viewfinder (HUD), compass, maps, tactical GPS, waypoint tracker, speedometer, and more! Save, track and share your position, multiple waypoints, and bearings, all in real time.

spyglass

Spyglass – iTunes

Spyglass – Android

Added extra…

The National Public Toilet Map shows the location of more than 14,000 public and private toilet facilities across Australia. This is a great App for families travelling with young children (especially when getting out the spade is not an option)

Using the Trip Planner function, you can plan your journey and locate toilets you can use along the way. The information provides location, opening hours, availability of baby change rooms, and accessibility for people with disabilities and the details of other nearby toilets.

toilet

National Public Toilet Map – iTunes

National Public Toilet Map – Android

One last thing before you go – help us by sharing to let others know who may benefit from this information!

We are about to hit the road ourselves in less than 4 weeks time – so if you can recommend any other awesome apps for travelling around Australia – add them in the comments.

Sharing is caring!

Happy travels everyone!

 

Written by: Mountain Sun Sea

Free Camp the Queensland Coast

Your Guide to Free Camping the Queensland Coast

Do you want to check out all that Queensland has to offer but you’re on a limited budget?

Avoid caravan parks that will cost you a fortune and save your dollars to allow for more activities. We have compiled a list of the best free camps along the Queensland Coast.

 

Hugh Muntz Park – Beenleigh

Situated halfway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, Beenleigh is the perfect location to set up camp. A quick 20-minute drive along the highway and you are on the doorstep of the Theme Parks. Drive a further 20km’s down the road and you are in the heart of the Gold Coast.

Now that you’ve had a big couple of days visiting the Theme Parks, catch the train from Beenleigh Station into the beautiful city of Brisbane. Spend a relaxing day at Southbank and when you retreat back to camp later that evening, visit Yatala Pies to get dinner sorted.

Wyllie Park – Petrie
Not heading far down the road today, an hour drive to the next free camp located in Petrie. This free camp has plenty of grass and a small playground for the kids. From here, you can head into Redcliffe to have a splash in the lagoon or day trip to the Australia Zoo for some family fun.


                                                                   

Alan and June Brown Car Park – Maryborough
Conveniently located on the main street and within walking distance to the shopping centres, so park up on the bitumen and enjoy all the surrounding grass. Maryborough is an ideal base to explore Hervey Bay with it only being a 20 minute drive.


 

Sharon’s Gorge Nature Park – Sharon

The kids have had their fun at the Theme Parks, now it’s time for the adults to enjoy themselves at the Bundaberg Rum Factory. An easy 15 minute drive out of Bundaberg, you will find Sharon’s Gorge – a comfortable rest area to pull up for the night – arrive early as it gets busy!  

 

Calliope River – Gladstone
A great, quiet campground overlooking the river with clean amenities and large areas to park. Check out the sights of Gladstone or enjoy some down time with a spot of fishing.

 

Kershaw Gardens – Rockhampton

Pull into the Kershaw Gardens, a large gravel car park with beautiful surrounding gardens and directly across from a large shopping centre to stock up on supplies. From here you can head to the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens for a picnic followed by a visit to the free zoo where you will find all the animals to keep the kids entertained – monkey’s, snakes, crocodiles and plenty more. 

 

Home Hill Comfort Stop – Home Hill

A great small town that welcomes free campers by providing them with fantastic free facilities. You will feel right at home with clean toilets, hot showers, a kitchen and a Laundromat across the road. A range of activities are organised by the Bowl’s Club including budget friendly meal deals, karaoke nights etc. An ideal overnight rest area!

 

Babinda RV Rest Area – Babinda

Now we are saving the best til last, be sure to spend a couple of nights at Babinda Rest Area where you will be delighted by clean facilities, large grassed areas, drinking water and a playground for the kids. Day trip to Paronella Park, enjoy a $7 breakfast at the ‘Kool Spot Café’, visit the Babinda boulders or take a 50km drive to check out all the attractions on offer in Cairns.

Follow: The Pyke Clan to keep updated with more of the best free camps

The Jeep Attachment, Made For The Campers

When it comes to off-road performance, you can’t go past the Jeep® Wrangler®. But you would never believe me if I told you that you could sleep in the tight metal shell.. Until now… For $36,000 USD.

The Action Camper© has been developed for overlanding and expeditions with two passengers. The interior is incredibly spacious and fitted with all of the amenities to have a comfortable and unforgettable expedition experience to remote areas. The pop-up roof offers in the kitchen area a clearance of 203cm (6’8″). All Dometic S4 windows come with bug screens and blinds. The honeycomb insulated roof allows to install four 100W solar panels (400W total). The roof tent has three vinyl windows; the side windows open and offer bug screens; all three come with detachable privacy covers. The mattresses, seats, backrests, pillows and part of the walls are covered with stylish coloured, cleanable Alcantara.

 

Is this Australia’s Best Caravan Park?

Our most recent stay in a caravan park was at the Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort. We had seen all the spectacular photos online and knew that it was rated as one of Australia’s best caravan parks, so we had agreed months ago that it was on our ‘to visit’ list.

We arrived and it was a piece of paradise. Usually we wouldn’t consider staying in a park that was charging over $35 per night, however, this time, we made an exception. The facilities that they had to offer were well and truly worth the extra dollars.

A resort style pool with two waterslides, mini golf, tennis court, badminton, volleyball, two jumping pillows and an animal park – there was plenty to keep us all entertained. If the above facilities weren’t tempting enough, they are currently underway building one of Australia’s biggest resort water parks with 13 slides.

 

Throughout the year, school holidays or not; they run a daily activity schedule. During our 6-night stay, we had fun biscuit decorating, watched two outdoor movies and enjoyed pancakes by the pool for breakfast, all hosted by the resort.

 

Leaving the park was like having those dreaded ‘post-holiday blues’, “do we really have to leave?” is what we asked ourselves. It may not be an officially recognised term but you all know what we are talking about. Now… if that is not a true indication of how much we enjoyed our stay, from people who consider themselves to be on long term holidays; then we’re not sure what else is.

A park that caters for the whole family – we will be back!

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What is your favourite caravan park? Leave a comment below.

Orange, Blayney and Carcoar

Whilst free camping at the excellent Carcoar Dam site, we had lots of opportunities to visit surrounding areas by car.

Sunrise at Carcoar Dam

Orange

We did a trip down memory lane when we spent a day in Orange as both Rob and I used to live here at different stages of our childhood. We found we knew some of the same people. For example, Rob’s sister was best friends with Mariska who became my best friend for the few years I spent at Canobolas High School. Some things have changed especially in the shopping heart of Summer Street, yet the iconic lookout at Mt Canobolas is still a rough old gravel road nearly all the way to the top. The road to the summit is about 5kms. The road is sealed at the bottom and also at the top, but there is a rough unsealed gravel section for most of the way. You’d think that the local council would have done this up by now.

Lousy gravel road to Mt Canobolas

From Mt. Canobolas we made our way to Lake Canobolas, a local boating recreation area. The grounds around the lake contain lovely picnic areas, BBQ settings and children’s playgrounds. The area also contains a number of large vineyards, many of which have open cellars and few with cafes or restaurants attached. My husband was ‘shocked’ to find that I used to go skinny dipping in the lake in my tear away teenage years. LOL

Lake Canobolas

 

Carcoar

Another day we went sightseeing around the historic town of Carcoar. I quaint town that time has left behind. Sadly not much was open during the weekday we visited but we are assured it has more to offer visitors on the weekends. Anyway, we drove around and loved seeing the old architecture such as the courthouse, the railway station and of course the beautiful old churches.

Carcoar Catholic Church

 

Carcoar Anglican Church

Blayney

This was our main shopping area for our stay, so we popped in a few times, whether it be to do some actual grocery shopping, buy some excellent fish and chips, visit the op shops or do the laundry etc. We also took our time getting a good look at the historic churches here. My favourite one being this tiny church in the main street but back a little and that I think many people would miss.

Blayney Presbyterian Church

Spring Hill

One place we didn’t stop by was Spring Hill. We were returning back from Orange via a different route and it was late in the day. It looks like it is definitely worth a visit all on its own.

Spring Hill Uniting Church

 

Glorious Autumn

Being autumn at the time of our visit, the trees were putting out their most colourful display in all the towns and countryside.

Autumn colours in Blayney

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