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

Free camping in Forbes

Wheogo Park, right in the heart of Forbes is a free 48 hour campsite. It is just off the Newell Highway making it a very convenient place to spend the night on your travels through the area. It is on the southern bank of the Lachlan River as it runs through Forbes and is only about 500m from the centre of town via a walkway across the river.

Part of the view from Wheogo Park

The campsite is a large relatively flat semi grassed area with trees providing some shade if you like with a few rarer sunny spots for the solar seekers. It is large enough for big rigs. There are no amenities here other than rubbish bins but there are toilets in Lions Park which is right next door about 600m from our van. There is also good mobile phone and television reception here for both Optus and Telstra.

Camped at Wheogo Park

Take a walk around the lake, it is flat and there’s a concrete path around most of it. There’s a sports field opposite the river and there are many bridges so the walk can be tailored to suite. As I mentioned earlier, the shopping centre is just on the other side of the river so it too is within easy walking distance with IGA being conveniently the closest!

Another beautiful morning dawns at Wheogo Park

It was here that we met up with Dawn and Spencer again and later Lorraine and Steve. Rob & Spencer walked to the McFeeter’s Motor Museum and enjoyed a couple of hours there whilst Dawn and I walked into town and did mostly window shopping whilst picking up some minor supplies & checking out the local op shop I bought 5 pairs of brand new still in the package, hot pink football socks for my sock doll making! Watch and see what I make with them.

Yindi on the left wearing a dress made from a hot pink football sock

Mc Feeter’s Motor Museum is in a purpose built shed used for displaying a vast collection of meticulously restored motor cars. The cars range from vintage to custom cars and many in between, including some real odd bods! The boys really enjoyed themselves.

McFeeter’s Motor Museum

 

McFeeter’s Motor Museum

 

Free camping at Bogan Weir

The reason we went off road and thus got bogged was that we missed the driveway into the Bogan Weir. It is just 7km from Peak Hill not the 15 we had been told. (Just 150m past the causeway).

This lovely spot is so quiet (other than the birds) that I think it must be a well kept secret. We had only 4 other campers there the entire time we were there and one of those was our good friends, Steve and Lorraine.

 

 

Peak Hill

Peak Hill is just a small town many people just past on through. There is a small supermarket, and a few little cafes. We enjoyed looking at the craft shop and the ‘antique’ shop which also houses many other bits and pieces including this fabulous hand beaded sheer dress at the bargain price of $400. It would be a dress that would looked fabulous on someone like Cher.

Mostly though we were at the weir just to have some time out to veg and spend some time crafting and chatting.

 

On the way out of Peak Hill we just had to stop by the open cut Gold Mine in Peak Hill.

Beardy Creek Free Camp

Beardy Creek is approximately 8 kilomteres north of Glen Innes on the New England … It is a free camp with a forty eight hour maximum stay. (Camps Australia Wide 7 #148)

I am standing up on the track which the truckies would use.

There is plenty of room for large vans here, and it is a good spot for quick overnight on your way though to see one of the majestic national parks in the New England Region.

A beautiful rainbow embraces the motorhome

We enjoyed our friendly time in Maryvale but it was time to move on again. In keeping with our motto of taking it easy, we travelled just 200km after attending church first at Warrick. Our destination this time was at Heritage Park on Beardy Creek just north of Glen Inness.

Got to keep an eye on the rising creek levels

We generally average 80k/h but the hills slow us down significantly. Rob was very concerned about the brakes on the motorhome as they were shuddering something fierce when heavily applied. I was to drive within eyesight behind to reduce the stress on the brakes and to be within cooee if something terrible happened.

Hardly a soul in sight.

Nothing happened on the trip. The grounds are very wet and we chose not to camp at the ‘proper’ camp grounds as it was so boggy. instead we went just 50m further to what appears to be a very large truck stop. Rob reckons that not many trucks would stop there due to the approach from the road and they certainly can’t veer off the hard track. Once we had parked and settled, we enjoyed relaxing and looking out with the creek just metres away. We weren’t going to be doing much walking since there was a gently but constant drizzle of rain. We were watching the already high river to ensure that it wasn’t likely to go any higher.

Free Camping at Moura Apex River Park

The road here from Rolleston was probably the roughest Qld bitumen road we’ve encountered so far on any of our trips. We spent last night at the Dawson River Rest Area. It is a lovely spot on the banks of the river.

The rest stop is beside the highway but far enough away from the highway for its traffic not to be a problem. The town of Moura, Queensland is 7 kms away.

There’s heaps of room, nicely mown grass, hot showers, toilets and even free firewood delivered by a ranger. There is an honesty box for donations.

While maybe you’d like to catch a Barramundi which are apparently kept stocked in the river, as we’ve said before, we are not really fishermen.

Bus woes

While we were looking for a spot to camp, we noticed some serious noise coming from our gears, they were slipping. This is so serious that Rob has to investigate.

You can see the stretched chain here – it should be hanging like that!

Though there are problems to be expected from an old bus, we certainly didn’t expect to have problems with our gear chain as that was fully replaced with brand new ones that we had to have made for us in America just 14,000km ago. The bad news is that the chain has stretched. Rob doesn’t want to move on until he can do something. He decides to make a run to Bundaberg and pick up a nylon block or two to do a temporary fix.

Free camping at Babinda

Babinda has a lovely park set aside for free camping just about 60km south of Cairns. The park is on the other side of the  railway line from town but still within easy walking distance – maybe 600 metres.

 

Babinda Rest Area itself has good shade along the river though it is mostly closed off the campers now but there is still places to camp on grass or you can choose the flat gravel area above. I really recommend the gravel area in times of wet weather as it gets rather boggy on the grassy area as can be expected right next to a creek (which floods easily too!) It is a clean facility with limited covered picnic areas, toilets, hot water showers (gold coin operated) and a dump point.

The town has a couple of craft shops including a scrapbooking shop, cafes, mini supermarket, pharmacy, mechanic, pubs etc. So make use of the town as a thank you for having a free camp in the area. Without us free campers supporting the businesses, the town would suffer greatly.

We have stopped here before in 2012 and we find that it is becoming more and more popular as well as there are more and more RVs on the road now too!

Solar Power in Overcast & Wet Weather

We hit some wet weather after the rally. We are so thankful for the invention of solar panels and lithium batteries. We have set up the motorhome that we can cope power wise, with a week’s overcast weather if we are careful without resorting to shore power or using a genie (which we don’t have anyway). Click on the words: solar or lithium to go to our set upon our bus.

The induction cooker, the kettle and the microwave oven are amongst the biggest power users. Since it is overcast, it is cool enough not to need air con which is another huge poser consumer. We do need power essentially for running my CPAP machine every night and to run the regular household fridge. The LED lights run off a separate battery and use very little power anyway.

We cope easily by heating water and cooking on the butane gas cooker when it is overcast and/or the batteries are low. We’ve worked out that we use an average of 1 can of butane gas per day for our coffee, tea, cooking and just washing up once a day under these circumstances.

How do you manage in lots of wet weather?

Free camping just outside of Mackay

The drive north from Rockhampton is very pretty however we weren’t planning on visiting Mackay this trip and so basically we bypassed it and free camped overnight at The Leap Hotel just north west of Mackay. It is a very green grassy site with a beautiful leafy backdrop and a magnificent view of the little mountain upon which the legend of The Leap is based. (Legend is repeated below)

The Leap was found via Wiki Camps as it is not in the Camps Australia Wide 8 book. The hotel offers a all night toilet (it’s the men’s toilet during pub hours) and a shower for a small price but only during pub hours as it is locked up within the pub itself. It is appreciated that you buy a beer or dinner at the pub in exchange for a free night. The chips we bought to accompany our steaks were wonderful. They have tried to specify specific camping areas. ie camping & wiz bangers further from the pub and motorhomes and caravans closer. I think it has more to do with the soil under the grass. It does look rather soft and wet weather might be a concern for getting bogged. We are being constantly reminded that we are now in the wet tropics as we travel further north.

 

The Legend of The Leap

In 1867 settlers had had enough of local Aborigines spearing their cattle for food. One raid in particular caused so much consternation among the farmers that matters came to a head and police got involved. The troopers tracked the natives to the top of the mountain that looms behind the hotel today. From high up near the clouds, a tribeswoman named Kowaha reportedly hurled herself from the sheer cliff face, rather than surrender to authorities. With her baby in her embrace, she leapt from Mt Mandarana and fell to her death far, far below.

Surprisingly, the baby girl survived her and was taken into care by the wife of a trooper. The Leap Baby, as she came to be known, remained in the district until her death in 1928.

Since that fateful day of confrontation the area has become known simply as ‘The Leap’, a place where visitors come to learn of and ponder about the mysteries surrounding events in Mackay’s heart-rending past.

Free Camping in Rockhampton

Who knew you could Free Camp right in the heart of Rockhampton at Kershaw Park.



Image from

Aussie Musing:

We had neglected to take a photo at the campsite!

I think it is awesome that a city such as Rocky would allow free camping right in the middle of the city. In fact it is just across the road from Stockland Shopping Centre.

We also had the advantage of meeting up with long time friends Sue & Peter, whom we haven’t seen for ages. They used to live us back home, until they moved to Coffs. It is so great to have this time to catch up.

After a quick settle in, we had a cuppa with Peter and Sue and I took a wander over to the shopping centre looking for a restaurant for the 4 of us to go to later that night as they had to be moving on early the next morning. As it was we decided to hop in the car and drive to a Thai restaurant in a neighbouring suburb.



Emu Park

It has become a tradition that we have bacon and eggs on the first morning at a new location if we are going to stay there a few days. So after our scrumptious breakfast we took the car to the Tourist Information Centre to seek advice of what to see in the area. We decided to take a scenic trip out to the seashore via Emu Park where we had a delightful picnic lunch on the headland at Wreck Point and then onto Yeppoon which is another pretty inlet.

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