Coddiwompling begins

29th January – 4th February 2017:

Sunday 29th: The decision to head off for a long trip of indeterminate length and destination was a sudden one. About 3 weeks ago the stars aligned making it possible for us to leave home for at least 6 months. Not long to prepare for such a long trip!

Our life for a while to come.

Our life for a while to come.

We got away from home just after lunch, only driving a short distance to Ormeau to spend a relaxing time with our friends Siggy and Heather where we solved most of the world’s problems and discussed their plans for their new home – quite an exciting concept.

Monday 30th: Next day (Happy birthday Nick), after a leisurely start we headed to Rod and Chris’s 100 acre property at Upper Orara, inland from Coffs Harbour.
We’ve decided to see if we can reach the main compass points on mainland Australia, so Byron Bay on the way couldn’t be missed.

Counting down the compass points in Australia.

Counting down the compass points in Australia.

Rod has been a friend for many, many years though it was 35 years ago we last caught up. Needless to say the afternoon and evening was spent reminiscing. A toast to good times, and a few more for the future.

Tuesday 31st

A long drive down the Pacific Highway today –  473 km from Rod and Chris’s to Bangalow Campsite in Watagans State Forest. It was a very hot day today with temps in the high 30’s – driving was the place to be! We brunched at Nambucca Heads by the river, and enjoyed a brief stopover at Karuah to pick up some oysters to enjoy with our champagne tonight. As we arrived a line of storms was passing through the area, which made us change our mind about Heaton Lookout, our original destination where rain would possibly make an already pretty bad road dangerous. The road to Bangalow is unsealed with various parts in poor condition with wash-aways and pools of water, but not too steep. The 4WD was barely tested.

Camping in the clouds. Bangalow Campground, Watagans NP

Camping in the clouds. Bangalow Campground, Watagans NP

The campsite is quite small with parking for only about half a dozen vehicles. Only in-vehicle or tent camping is possible as the grassy camping area is separated from the parking. There’s a picnic shelter with table, a gas BBQ (out of order) and the loos, and very pretty little kangaroos. It’s completely surrounded by the forest which made for an ethereal atmosphere as the clouds settled over and amongst the trees. With elevation and the passing of the storm the temperature was pleasant. We spent a peaceful night as the only campers here.

Wednesday 1st February:

After a very relaxing morning we went for a walk. Just down the road is the Gap Creek Falls day use and camping area. The walk isn’t far, maybe 5km return from our campsite, but the path down to the creek to view the falls is very steep with lots of rock hopping and scrambling over rocks that are wet and slippery. However once down the falls are beautiful – nature is the best landscape designer! We loved the plants, the rainforest setting providing a beautiful palette for the falls which feed the pool at the bottom and the shallow creek that bubbles over and around a rocky creek bed.

Gap Creek Falls. Our descent was very nearly as steep at the falls themselves.

Gap Creek Falls. Our descent was very nearly as steep at the falls themselves.

That evening we settled in for another solitary night, only to be surprised (disappointed!) by 2 camper vans arriving within about 20 minutes of each other, well after dark, and parking closely on either side of us. What is it about parking close together when the park is otherwise empty!

Thursday 2nd:

Up early and off today to Kiama to stay with cousin Lynette and Geoff. On the way we dropped in briefly to Trakka at Kuring Gai for a minor problem. As usual a delightful evening chatting, sharing news and reminiscing. Thanks Lyndie and Geoff.

Friday 3rd:

Today we meet up with Ric and Gill who we’ll be bushwalking Kosciusko with. They’re with their cousin Glen and Jen at their beach house in Bendalong. What a delightful little beachside town this is. Their home backs onto the national park and is one block off the beach – the best of both worlds.

We all lunched at St Isadores in Milton, about 20 mins south. The restaurant which is set in beautiful gardens, grows its own vegetables and fruit and has a flock of hens. The food was superb.

Glen, Ric, Jen, Gill, Steve and Denise - just finished a magnificent lunch at St Isadore's in Milton.

Glen, Ric, Jen, Gill, Steve and Denise – just finished a magnificent lunch at St Isadore’s in Milton.

Music and talking till late.

Saturday 4th:

Off to Canberra today to buy some hiking gear. We camped at Cotters Reservoir campground. The campground is on the Cotter River just near the Cotter Dam which was Canberra’s first water supply. Burley-Griffin designed it to have a wall of 90ft, however due to the cost of World War 1, when it was completed in 1915 the wall was only built to 65ft, with popular thinking that that would be adequate. Needless to say the Capital had outgrown it by the 1950s and other dams came online. A major drought prompted the authorities to increase the holding capacity of Cotter Dam and in 2013 it was reopened with a wall height of 87 metres (285ft). I wonder what Burley-Griffin would think?

Anyway we enjoyed a walk around the river to the dam spillway and back in the afternoon before settling down for the night with the hundred or so other campers here tonight.

Bridge over Cotter River. Loved the sleeping ducks.

Bridge over Cotter River. Loved the sleeping ducks.

Click HERE to view other photos from our first week of coddiwompling.

Days 1 – 7: Home to Port Douglas

7th – 13th June, 2015

Our next adventure, exploring Cape York, began with a long, fast ‘transfer’. A ‘transfer’ is driving just to get somewhere else.  It took us 4 days to cover the 1833K from home to Port Douglas where we met our friends Gill and Ric. From home we went up the Burnett Hwy to meet the Bruce Highway just north of Maryborough. Stopping at Biggenden we were surprised to meet Keiran and Alan in their Jabiru – small world. Lunch turned out to be coffee and cake – public holiday and only the pub was open. That night we spent at Alan and Cheree’s home in Gladstone. A very pleasant evening.

Next day on to and past Mackay to camp beside the Leap Hotel. The Leap was named after the story of a young aboriginal mother who was being pursued by the police (conflict between aboriginals and white settlers in the early days of white settlement was frequent). Rather than be captured, the mother, carrying her infant, climbed Mt Mandurana (now commonly known as ‘The Leap’) and jumped to her death. Her baby girl survived the fall.

This very well patronised, free campsite is well grassed and pleasant and the Hotel amenities are available to campers. We had an average dinner there before settling down for the night. Not a good night’s sleep though. Getting used to a different bed is always unsettling, but the traffic was just a bit much – after all we were right beside the Bruce Highway!

Early morning at The Leap - bit chilly!

Early morning at The Leap – bit chilly!

Off to Townsville next day, but first a stop at Whitsunday Gold just outside Proserpine – a coffee plantation and cafe we discovered on our last trip here. The coffee was just as delicious as ever, and the savoury muffins were to die for. Don’t miss this little gem when you’re up this way.

Enjoying morning tea at Whitsunday Gold.

Enjoying morning tea at Whitsunday Gold.

Arriving in the afternoon at Townsville we booked into the Rowes Bay Caravan Park. It’s fair enough – very clean amenities and a grassy place to set up camp. Because it wasn’t such a long day today we went for a walk along the coastal walk from there to The Strand and back, stopping for a meal on the way. The council has done a lot of work on this part of Townsville. The walk follows the coast all the way, with a very impressive boardwalk to take you around Kissing Point. Also the area that had been army land on Kissing Point has now been redeveloped and is excellent – lots of sculptures, information about the indigenous and white history, a layout of the Battle of the Coral Sea and first hand reports of being in Townsville during WWII when it was being bombed. Excellent work Council.

Interesting sculptures along the coastal walk in Townsville.

Interesting sculptures along the coastal walk in Townsville.

Next morning off to Port Douglas, via Cairns where we stopped for lunch at the Paleo Cafe. Arrived in Port Douglas about 3.30pm relieved we’d be having a rest for a few days. Here Ric and Gill had very conveniently arrived a few days earlier and booked into a two-bedroom apartment. We’ve spent the last 3 days here relaxing, soaking up the tropical, tourist atmosphere, doing an anti-rain dance (it’s rained heavily every night – not good for our 4WD tracks) and eating way too much. This is a beautiful place. It’s great to be in the tropics this winter, and Port Douglas just shouts of tropical paradise.
This afternoon Gill and I re-provisioned and now we’re prepared for every eventuality, we hope!

To see more photos from this part of the trip CLICK HERE.

Beautiful Port Douglas, from the lookout.

Beautiful Port Douglas, from the lookout.

Day 21: Hamilton Island to Flaggy Rock

Not goodbye, but aurevoir!

Not goodbye, but aurevoir!

Mixed emotions today. We left Hamilton this morning. Enjoyed our last breakfast by the pool watching the ocean. Said our goodbyes to Ric and Gill and Laura and Stuart (they flew back to Brisbane) and caught the boat back to Shute Harbour. I must say the weather today was the best yet. The ocean was calm and the islands sitting in it were stunning. Very sad that this part of our trip was over.
Back on the mainland we picked up Mitzy and went to Cannonvale to restock the food. We were surprised how quiet it was in both Shute and Airlie. The van parks were just about empty. When the season finishes, it finishes! Got away about 1pm. The drive from Airlie to the highway is really unattractive – maybe with the excitement of going there you don’t notice it so much, but leaving you do.
Tonight we’re staying at the Flaggy Rock Community Centre which is a couple of K off the highway and just south of Camilla. It was once the primary school, but is now used by community groups. The grounds are very spacious as you can imagine and beautifully maintained by the caretaker – green grass! And only $5 per vehicle per night. Only downside is the railway line runs past it. Let’s hope there’s not too many trains tonight.
I mentioned mixed emotions at the beginning of this entry. It was sadly and reluctantly that we left our tropical island, and hassling with shopping and highway driving didn’t make it any easier. However, once set up here after dinner sitting outside looking at the myriad of stars and watching for satellites and falling stars the joy of our trip soon came back. Great to be on the road again.

Day 20: Hamilton Island

Another beautiful day – we’ve been blessed with gorgeous weather this whole trip, but especially here. After another leisurely, delicious breakfast beside the pool Steve and I relaxed outside our unit with books and iPads. Laura and Ric both had computer work to do and Stu stayed with Laura, so Gill came over to us. We got our chauffeured car to take us to the marina-side where we had coffee looking at the fish swimming by and the boats.

on Whitehaven

on Whitehaven

In the afternoon we went to Whitehaven Beach with Laura and Stu. Steve and I have been there many times and know it is THE most beautiful beach in the whole world and wanted to share it with L & S. And it didn’t disappoint. Thank heaven for National Parks.

No, stay with Steve - don't come to the photographer!

No, stay with Steve – don’t come to the photographer!

Back on Hamilton again our hotel put on a cocktail hour with free drinks and nibbles, and a ‘celebrity’ guest who turned out to be a coastal carpet python.
Dinner was booked at Bommies restaurant for us all. This is the Island’s signature restaurant at the yacht club. Well I can attest to the food being divine. Superb! We had a fun evening with drinks at our place before we went over – and a little bit of dancing … well Gill and I danced anyway. A very enjoyable evening with excellent food and excellent company.

To see our remaining Hamilton Island photos, click here.

Day 19: Hamilton Island



Not a big entry for today. Just how much can you read about us eating, drinking, relaxing by Ric/Gill”s apartment, the pool, the beach, the pub …? It was windy today – too windy unfortunately for them to let us use the surf cats. Don’t get me wrong – it was still gorgeous weather!
This evening Ric and Gill cooked for us. They’d brought the yummiest, tenderest piece of marinaded meat and chicken over with them. Ric cooked it on the BBQ. Delicious meal shared with Ric, Gill, Laura and Stuart, sitting on the patio overlooking the ocean, Whitsunday Is and the moon rise. Good food, good friends, good conversation, good weather, good views – can’t ask for much more.

Day 18: THE Birthday

Our wonderful birthday boy.

Our wonderful birthday boy.

Today’s the big day. Our birthday boy turns 60! Congratulations Steve. I’ve known this wonderful man for most of those 60 years and can tell you he’s a very special person and my soul mate – love you darling!

We’ve had a really fabulous day today. Started with breakfast by the pool – long and leisurely. Then Steve had a massage and afterwards reported it to be the best he’s ever had, and I had a facial which was also very good – though people are still recognising me, so maybe it wasn’t!

That's her boat!

That’s her boat!

Fathers and daughters - a special relationship.

Fathers and daughters – a special relationship.

Finished those just in time to go over to the deck of the yacht club to watch Laura arrive by boat. Went with her up to her accommodation then we all went down to the pool that has the swim-up bar and had a cocktail. After a little something to eat we headed to the airport to pick up Ric and Gill, and Stuart who came up as a surprise for Laura and Steve (I was already in on the surprise!). Both were suitably surprised and delighted.

Sat around their apartment and chatted and drank for a bit before changing the location, if not the activity, to the yacht club. Back to our place (The Beach Club) and off to the beach until it was time to get dressed for dinner.
Dinner was divine. We each raved about the meals we had. And for dessert they brought out a mud cake birthday cake, which I had prearranged with the bakery.

Is that all that's left?

Is that all that’s left?

Altogether a fabulous day in a wonderful place, and very grateful that we had friends and family to share Steve’s 60th birthday. Thank you Ric, Gill, Laura and Stuart.

Check out some more photos of Steve’s birthday day by clicking here.