166.Sunday 12th December 2010. Once again we travel, we rest and we encounter rain…

Monday 6th December

Woke at the usual silly hour of 5am but fell back to sleep for 45 minutes. (On reflection I am averaging 7 hours sleep each night and that seems to be enough so I should not get hung up how much sleep I have had. On the other hand Donnis has around 10 hours sleep and probably needs all of it)

It was warm and humid during the night so we put the big fan on.

Eventually, after a late breakfast and morning tea we left “Willowvale” the home of Bobby n Dianne.

After filling up with diesel, Donnis wanted to visit the local gem shop, Crystal Kingdom to buy a pair of earrings.

Crystal Kingdom. A lot more than just crystals.

After a bit of resistance from me I agreed to accompany her. I was not interested in looking through acres of earrings and other bits of semi precious stone jewellery. What caught my eye was the museum in a huge room beside the showroom. This room contained mostly material from volcanic locations in the nearby vicinity (for nearby read up to 250 klms). Much of the material was various types of “ite” as much of the material named, ended with those three characters. There were many fossils and dinosaur bones. Amazingly we were here for over an hour and unless I made a decision to drag Donnis out of there we would not have got to our next destination before dark. As it was we left Coona at 1.30 pm about three hours later than I had hoped. On reflection we both agree to come back to Coona in order to visit the Warrumbungle Ranges which is comprised of about 57 different volcanic plugs. Maybe we could also visit the Crystal Kingdom again to understand more about the display.

On the first leg to Narrabri we saw an Emu on the side of the road. Thankfully he did not dart out in front of us. I cannot say the same for the next bird which flew in front of us. As I did not hear an impact I assumed we had missed it. Not so. We stopped for lunch at a roadside rest area and found the dead Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike behind the bull bar. I felt terrible but there was nothing I could do.

We arrived at Moree and booked in to the Gwydir Caravan Park which has 5 thermal pools including a full size heated pool at about 35° with smaller pools ranging in temps up to 39°. These are the cleanest thermal pools we have encountered in our travels. Like the other pools you are asked to shower before entering. The unisex showers run continuously at a hot temperature and are open to public view. We spent an hour in the pools until we were so worn out we had to stop for dinner.

This evening I witnessed a mating ritual of a pair of Crested Pigeons. The male seemed to be pecking the smaller female bird to death. After he hopped onto her and a bit off jiggling later he hopped off and strutted away. She (I’m guessing it was a she) lay hunkered down on the grass for a long time before standing up, shaking her feathers  in a ruffle and also walked off.

Tuesday 7th December

It was overcast when I woke but the sun made a welcome appearance for most of the day. The drive to Goondiwindi was interesting despite the seemingly endless flat landscape. The industry in this area is a mixture of wheat and cotton although I was surprised to see huge fields of corn.

What a great little package is the town of Goondiwindi. It is neat, busy and seems prosperous although there is at least one long term business closing down. The towns leading clothing and haberdashery store was having a closing down sale with discounts of up to 70%. I was looking for a lightweight wind breaker. I did not find one but did walk out with a pair of leather sandals and a pair of Asics Cross Trainers.

There are lots of very nice looking houses on very large blocks. Although many houses are old they have been well maintained and have wonderful gardens and green front lawns.

We visited the Gunsynd Museum.

Gunsynd was a racehorse during the late 60’s and seventies and was considered the champion horse which never won a Melbourne Cup. He did win just about every other major event on the Australian Racing calendar. Known as the Goondiwindi Grey he was popular amongst racegoers not only for a huge string of wins but for his antics in the winners circle. Now, I am not a great fan of racing but will watch the Melbourne Cup but am not interested in any other races. However, on reading the story about Gunsynd, written by a hardened racing writer I can honestly say the story brought a lump to my throat.

Just out of town is a Water Park

Lunch at the Goondiwindi Water Park.

which is used for family picnics and water skiing facilities. This is a fabulous facility, well cared for with nice clean amenities and well maintained lawns and gardens. The barbecues and picnic shelters are a credit to the people who maintain it. We lunched there and showered before heading 17 klms out of town to a free campsite on the banks of the river. When we arrived it was a sea of mud with deep trenches where previous campers were bogged.

No thanks. We turned around and moved to plan B.  Oops! We did not have a plan B but made it up as we went. We decided not to stay at a caravan park and instead head out of town and look for a freedom campsite. The nearest was at Millmerin about 112 klms on the road to Toowoomba. So, we set off at 5.30pm on the Gore Hwy, with the sun beginning to set and arrived at Millmerin in the dark, just before 8pm. Thanks to the GPS we found the site with only minimal confusion. We had the site to ourselves.

Wednesday 8th December.

On waking this morning it was quite cool and raining. Our plans to visit local sites and lookouts were changed in an instant. No way were we risking slippery and boggy gravel roads which were already saturated with weeks of rain and more rain today and more to come this week. So… we headed off to Toowoomba to see the sights. Again, I changed my mind due to the volume of traffic in the city so we continued our trip through to Crows Nest in the mountains above Toowoomba. The A2 – New England Hwy runs out of Toowoomba but at some point becomes the Burnett Hwy and is a little confusing. We have taken a chance with local roads and set up camp at Crows Nest National park.

Our lonely campsite at Crows Nest National Park.

We are the only campers here and night has fallen with a thud plus all the other myriad of night-time noises.

Before dinner we took a walk along one of the trails to the local river

Part of the many sets of stone steps at Crows Nest National Park

but were too tired to continue on the longer trail to the lookout above a waterfall. Perhaps in the cool of tomorrow morning.

The bushy bearded one in a a bush setting at Crows Nest National Park.

Thursday 9th December

Light rain fell overnight and I woke to overcast conditions although the sun makes an appearance occasionally.

We found many nushes with these berries growing on them. Can anybody identify these berries?

This morning I was reading a blog where the people were on a bushwalk and the lead walker stepped over a snake without seeing it while the second walker shouted, snake. I quickly put that out my mind while we had breakfast then started our own bushwalk to the lookout above the waterfall. Ten minutes into our walk we encountered a snake. Fortunately it was a Green Tree Snake about a metre long. I thinks he got as much fright as I did because he took off quickly into the scrub. Too quick for me to even think about taking a photo let alone getting the camera ready. Still talking about seeing a snake we almost stepped on another. This one was not so easy to identify and I did not like the look of its markings. Added to that the snake went into its offensive attack posture, that is, curving the head and body into an S shape and raising the head off the ground while flattening the neck area, sort of like a Cobra. Its forked tongue was quivering and it was not going anywhere, standing it’s ground. We stood quietly waiting. Once I handed my walking pole to Donnis so I could hold the camera, it reacted with more aggressive behaviour before heading off the track. Trying to photograph a snake on the move is not easy. Especially when it starts climbing a tree and the lens cannot differentiate between a branch and the snake attached to it.

Common Tree Snake. It seems to be grinning at us.

From the photos I have identified it as a Common Tree Snake. It is non venomous. I sure hope my identification was correct. We continued the trek to the waterfall lookout then returned to camp. Later in the morning we headed off to Perseverance Lake,

Perseverance Dam the water supply for Toowoomba. Seems to be awefully low considering the amount of rain which has fallen in recent months.

the main water supply for Toowoomba, Highfield and Crows Nest.

Lunch spot at perseverance Dam.

After a scrumptious lunch (our own prepared lunches are usually scrumptious) overlooking the lake – which seems to be about 50% full – we headed off to look at a freedom campsite at Ravensbourne and Gus Buetells Lookout.

Gus Buetells Lookout near Hampton Qld.

One was not suitable and the other does not permit camping. From there we dropped into the village of Hampton where another campsite was available but being right on the highway we decided to move on to Cooyar about 50 klms up the New England Highway. See I told you it was confusing. Where did the Burnett go??? Yes you are correct. Cooyar is where we overnighted two weeks ago at the site of the 5 year olds grave. This time around we hooked up to power for $5 but there is no water as all the town is on tank water.

We are low on water so it will be sponge baths tonight.

We did think about a pub dinner last night but wanted to use up the leftovers of cabbage, dahl and carrots to go with some smoked haddock and fresh asparagus.

Mmmm. Asparagus cooked in the same milk as the haddock is delicious.

Friday 10th December

6.40am the sun  is streaming through the dinette window but only for a short while. There was an opening in the otherwise overcast sky. On the bedroom side the sky is as black as black. Then the wind began.

Hmmm! Better get my early morning walk completed before any rain begins. As I was returning a few fat drops of rain landed on my face. Another delightful day of rain will annoy me. Donnis loves this weather. Not too hot and not cold.

Funny thing, we are about 300m off the highway and unless trucks use their exhaust brakes we cannot hear any traffic noise. We are in sight of a repeater station yet cannot get any signal on either mobile, the iPad or the Wireless Modem. We are only 50 klms from where we camped on Wednesday night where we were “in the bush” but had perfect reception but no TV (except a very week analogue signal). Here we have no mobile reception but perfect digital TV. Go figure.

It was quite warm n humid last night so while Donnis watched perfect digital TV I turned on the AC for an hour as I uploaded photos from the camera and edited some in preparation for the blog.

A liitle after 9am we left Cooyar and drove through several towns including Kilcoy where an old army mate, Noel, lives. Regrettably we have not been able to contact him for several days so we continued down the mountain and turned back up the mountain for Maleny. Along the way we stopped at a lookout to view the Glasshouse Mountains with Brisbane way in the background. Maleny itself was in turmoil as main roads are laying fresh asphalt in the main street and traffic was backed up in all directions. Add school buses and parents collecting kids from schools and tourist buses and you get the picture. We stopped to have a look at an over 50’s resort where you can buy the house but not the land but there are no rates, no taxes, no body corp, no legal fees, no exit fees and you keep any capital gains. Rent is $134 per week.

Hmmm!

Hmmm!

Only an hour to Noosa.

Hmmm.

Only a bit more to Brisbane.

Hmmm.

We arrived in Kenilworth and drove into the Showgrounds and met the CMCA Chapter South Burnett Travellers with whom we will spend the weekend.

Our site at Kenilwort Showgrounds before the torrential rain began later in the afternoon.

We had dinner at the local pub and it was surprisingly good. Prices were OK but wine prices were on the high side. All in all it was a good meal. We walked to and from the pub.

Saturday 11th December.

It was hot n humid overnight and I put the AC on for a few hours.

Last night we watched a movie called Evolution on the laptop. It was a silly movie along the lines of Ghost Busters, only this time it was aliens from outer space and there was lots of slimy yukky stuff. The really good part of the movie was the soundtrack. We have a speaker system purchased for use with one of the iPods but it does double duty as a sound system for the laptop. It is like a surround sound theatre system.

Like WOW!

Today dawned early for me at 4.45am but stayed in bed until around 5.30 as a number of birds outside the window were fighting over a grub one had found. The sky told me it would be one of those days where the weather itself does not know what it will do. By mid morning it was blue skies and stinking hot n humid. We had a Christmas lunch of cold meats, salads and prawns. Of course we had a glass or two of wine and a fun mystery santa. We enjoyed meeting many of the South Burnett Travellers some of whom we have met before when they visited the Sugarloafers.

The men of South Burnett Travellers meet Santa.

After lunch Donnis n I watched another movie, a long one called Defiance. I will not explain it here but will say it is based on a true story, has a loud sountrack and I stayed awake all the way through. Midway a threatening storm hit with heavy rain and strong winds so after packing all the outside stuff in a heap to stay almost dry / almost saturated we returned to the movie. By then it was dark so we sloshed through puddles to the hall for a dinner of leftovers and Donnis has been invited to play cards.

You only have to ask her once.

Went to bed to the sound of constant rain.

Sunday 12th December.

It is 4.20am and I am wide awake listening to the rain. I woke several times during the night and heard constant rain. I type this entry until I am tired enough to go back to bed.

Hmmm! We have to get out of here later this morning and already the water is 50cm deep above the grass. I still have to disconnect the power, empty the black water and grey water at the dump point. All the rubber mats have to be put away as does the table and chairs. All wet of course.  Maybe the sun will come out during the week so everything can be dried and aired. A drawback about living in a motorhome is there is limited space to put wet shoes, umbrellas and rain jackets when it is raining. At the moment it is just rain so some stuff under the awning will not be too bad. When strong winds arrive as well, nothing escapes getting wet.

The rain continued to fall steadily as we packed up. One by one we watched the other rigs leave until there was just one other couple and ourselves. Donnis packed up inside while I worked outside in the unrelenting rain. Eventually we were ready so Donnis drove WWWGO to the dump point where I emptied the grey water and toilet cassette. By now I was thoroughly wet via the air vents in the rain jacket leaking water and the bottom my shorts soaking up the rain as it ran off the lower edge of the rain jacket. Duhh! Too late, I remembered the rain pants I keep in the hatch for days like this. Was I glad that Donnis had stayed inside and had a towel and dry clothes waiting for me. It rained for the rest of the afternoon and the evening, finally stopping about 8pm.

Even when we arrived at Noosaville the rain continued meaning we could move minimal stuff out of WWWGO for our 4 day stay.

Tomorrow the forecast is for showers.

Tomorrow we get the Hitch n Go installed.

Tomorrow begins the big clean up and dry out and lots of washing and drying

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