Monday 8th November
Today was a long day.
For many reasons.
A big storm passed through at midnight last night. The wind and rain started a little earlier but at midnight there was lightning and thunder. We had packed most things away a few hours before so felt comfortable we could leave in the morning without too many things to be done. Although it took ages to get back to sleep, with thunder and lightning every few minutes, we did get back to sleep.
Only to be woken just before 6am with an almighty bolt of lightning which both of us saw through closed eyelids. The Thunder erupted at the same time and rain by the bucketload dropped on us and started little rivulets and puddles within minutes. We dressed quickly and decided to get into town and dump our black water before breakfast. It was then I realised the ramps under the front wheels were still…under the front wheels.
I also realised the stabilising jacks were still in the down position. So… wearing my bright yellow rainjacket I was on my hands and knees in a puddle of mud, winding up the jacks.
Still, we were on our way before 6.30 am.
The plan was to get as close to Ballina within a reasonable hour. So, after dumping… whilst standing ankle deep in cold running water… we drove into Bingara and parked and ate breakfast.
We headed out of town and passed through the following wonderful towns which we will have to explore in the future.
Inverell, Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Casino, Lismore and Ballina.
Cheapest fuel since leaving home almost two months ago was on the outskirts of Glen Innes. We crossed the Great Dividing Range which went up, up, up, down, down, down and around corners for around 50 klms. It felt like we were driving in Tasmania.
We stopped in Lismore to get a gas cylinder filled as it had run out on Saturday.
We reached Ballina at 4pm so decided to push on to Byron Bay a place neither of us had visited previously. As it had been such a long day (in fact 12 hours since we were rudely woken until we got settled into our site) I suggested we stay at a van park and go out for dinner. Yikes! One night was $40.
We also experienced high humidity, the first time since leaving Airlie Beach almost 2 months ago.
Dinner was a disaster and we got lost and could not find our way back to the van park. We had come out at sunset and did not bring the handy map the van park gave us. We could not remember the name of the van park. Eventually I recalled it was beside the old railway line so we finally found the railway line and followed it until we found the van park.
Tuesday 9th November.
We left at 9.30 and decided to visit the lighthouse before departing Byron Bay. The number of young women, young mums, jogging up the hills is amazing. Not many guys though. The women all seem to wear the same style of clothing. Perhaps they all went to the same exercise training school. The traffic in this town is chaotic at this time of day but we eventually got to the lighthouse, took a photo while sitting in the car and left,
only to be caught up in the traffic again.
Byron Bay is not my kind of town. I guess 40 or so years ago it probably would have been but it is even more of a party town than Airlie Beach. Last night while waiting for dinner we went for a walk along the main shopping streets. Most of the shops were open and people were everywhere.
It rained last night and rained again as we were leaving and continued on and off all the way through to our destination for the night. Coming over a hill near Tweed Heads the whole coast area to Surfers Paradise was laid out for us to see. Wall to wall roadworks, building works, cranes and traffic. No way. Repeat, no way could I ever live in a place like this.
After spending so much time driving in the outback and noting the condition of the roads which provide food and mineral wealth I am appalled that there is little funding for outback roads. However all the way through to Brisbane there are roadworks, major roadworks in the south east corner. In the outback if a pothole begins it could be months before local councils can get around to dumping a small load of pitch and gravel in the hole. It seems that in the southeast if a pothole occurs the government throws money at it in the shape of digging up the entire road and putting in new lanes. It seems unfair. I know there are population differences but our food and wealth come from the outback, surely they deserve better roads.
The traffic into Brisbane got heavier and heavier so I was relieved to eventually find Brisbane Holiday Village, our home for the next two nights. Expensive but probably the best presented van park we have ever been in.
Tomorrow we have to find the car yard and complete the deal.
Wednesday 10th November.
I set up the address of the car dealer on the GPS and we headed off. About 3 klms from our destination the GPS failed. I tried several times to re-set and re-activate the GPS. It would not work. Sooo… on the iPad I have a Maps icon. I clicked and opened the maps and instantly it located our position and set up a route to follow and within minutes we had arrived.
Long story short we now have a 2005 white Daihatsu Terios.
The excitement of the new car is offset by the sadness of losing the Subaru. The Subaru quality finish and standard fittings is superior to the Daihatsu. We have both owned Daihatsu in the past and they have served us well and are economical to run. It is sad though. Goodbye dear Subie.
The excitement was also tempered by trying to drive back to Brisbane Holiday Village without the GPS but we used the iPad which has been so worthwhile and instrument to have. We did make a wrong turn at one stage but I recalculated our route, in the same way a GPS would do and had us back on track and home to WWWGO with a minimum of stress. However I will look at a replacement GPS, probably a Tom Tom or Garmin especially as we will be spending some time in Brisbane over the next few months and a month in Sydney next May. The iPad with maps is great but does not do what a GPS does and needs one person using the device while the other drives.
Tomorrow we will leave here and move over to Redcliffe Showgrounds on the northside of Brisbane River. It is closer to the airport and will not involve using toll roads.
Thursday 11th November
Thanks to another park camper giving me simple directions, the trip to Redcliffe was easy, without problems. Laurie H called on the mobile and I was able to answer on Bluetooth while I was driving. She gave me the street address of the showgrounds. We drove to the beach and had a coffee. We put the street address in iPad Maps and we were at the showgrounds in a few minutes.
On arrival the caretaker informed us there was a Boy Scouts Rod and Custom Car and Bike Show on over the weekend. All campers will have to move to another part of the grounds tomorrow.
We took the opportunity to go to Harvey Norman to look at GPS, Bunnings to look at some shaving cabinets and a bit of shopping.
At dinner I realised we forgot to observe Remembrance Day at 11am.
Friday 12th November
Moved WWWGO to our new location about 8.30 and discovered although we have power, water & toilets the showers are in the old section and it is a 500m walk. Parked near us is the Potato Man. For those of you who have gone to the local shows around Qld and NSW you might recall the Potato Man who sells oven baked potato with a variety of toppings. His van is always a black with gold handles, looking like a railway engine with trim. He has been doing the show circuit for 27 years. He sold to Adam two years ago and Adam is in the process of re-building the entire kitchen.
After lunch I drove Donnis the 40 klms to the Brisbane airport. It was an easy drive and return. On my way back I stopped at Supacheap Autos and bought a Navman GPS. Donnis arrived in Sydney to visit granddaughter Amelia and I had happy hour with a few other campers. That was our day.
Saturday 13th November.
Be prepared for an exciting entry folks.
I dragged the washing machine out of the Terios and connected power and water. As it is only a small tub I needed to do 4 loads of washing. I also strung some clothes line under the awning and hung the washing out to dry. I drove to another shopping centre, mainly to find the Post Office as I am expecting an eTag to arrive so we can enter tollways anywhere in Australia.
I suppose you could say this is a lay week where we get housekeeping and other chores completed. I have no idea where the rest of Saturday went but at least I got the washing dried, folded and put away. I cooked up a batch of chilli con carne for dinner and settled down to watch the finals of the Four Nations Rugby League. Sob, New Zealand scored a try in the 89th minute and won the game.
Donnis sent photos of her holding Amelia. She is glowing – Donnis that is – she looks like a mum holding the baby.
Sunday 14th November
Drove to Noosa Heads today to visit sister Enid and her husband Ken. They have been doing some major renovations to their house and I must say it is looking fabulous. It also gave me the chance to test out the new GPS as well as the Terios. I am getting used to driving it and look forward to trying it out off road. It rained quite a as I was leaving Redcliffe but by the time I arrived at Ettamogah Pub the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. I stopped for a coffee and sausage roll at the famous pie shop. They are now part of a chain called Mr Beefy. The sausage roll, at $3.70 is the dearest I have encountered anywhere in two states. It was also tasteless, the meat filling had the consistency of paste. Rather disappointing really so I completed one of their feedback forms. It will probably be the last time I go to Mr Beefy. Has a great barbecue lunch with my sister then we visited our Uncle Bill at the nearby nursing home. He is very sharp and up to date with what is happening in the world but his conversation is liberally sprinkled with recollections of the past. He is writing his memoirs. I had a great visit with Enid (or Sue as she prefers to be called) and left late in the afternoon to arrive on dusk back at the van. I noted that many of the rigs have now moved back to the other side again.
Sigh! It looks as though I will probably have to do the same thing tomorrow.
Now that I have had a chance to drive 300 klms in the Terios I noticed the little things that make a difference. The Terios does not have cruise control, electric windows in the back and no thermometer. The foot well is quite narrow and probably explains why the previous owner removed the foot rest. It not as fast or as quick through the gears so I will have to learn to drive a bit more sedately and not race car drive through the gears like we could do in the Subbie. It also does not have a drink holder fitted nor a centre console or a device which automatically turns off the lights when the ignition is turned off. On the way home I turned off the air con, opened up the sunroof and the passenger window. It would be great to drive that way especially in the outback with low humidity. So far from the small tank of fuel I have driven 350 klms and still have a third of a tank. I will do some calculations on fuel consumption but expect around 500 klms to a tank.