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Rachel &, wife and campervan!

Nearly a year of married life and we're finally off on honeymoon. A month living in the confines of a campervan could mean the holiday of a lifetime....or end in divorce. We're obviously hoping for the former but you you never know so keep checking the blog to follow our progress.

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Location: Bundaberg, QLD, Australia

We really should stop choosing campsites in the dark. This one was very 'Bates Motel' and was next to a highway, a river and a train track. We quickly got ready and left. First stop of the day was the Bundaberg rum distillery, home of the nations favourite rum but virtually unknown anywhere else in the world as they only export 3% of production. We were shown round by yet another tour guide who had spent too long in his cage and learnt a lot about the rum making process. We had our free taste and left with a couple of bits of merchandise. Then we drove. And drove. And drove. Well, Kieron drove and Rachel was bored. We arrived at Rockhampton, beef capital of the country, with the plan of a bite to eat and then more driving but we got distracted by a super pub. We made a quick decision to find a campsite and then get installed in the pub which we did with great speed. As we were in beef country it was only right and prpoer that we sample the goods so we sat down to beef. Kieron had a large rump steak and Rachel (who's not overly keen on beef) had beef chilli nachos. Both meals were delicious especially when washed down with a bucket of wine. Reports of the camper van spinning were heard when we finally made it to bed.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Location: Fraser Island, QLD, Australia

Another early start and we found ourselves walking in a landscape that resembled a desert. Fraser Island has been said to have more sand than the Sahara Desert and it's easy to believe when you see the miles of rolling dunes. We drank water from a creek and the boys scaled a massive dune only to race each other back down! We continued up the beach to see the Pinnacles, s section of coloured sand cliffs. There are said to be 23 different shades of sand in these cliffs and Jason gave us various scientific reasons for the colour variations in the sand. Next stop was the Maheno shipwreck, a luxury Australian cruise liner that served time in both World Wars before being bought by the Japanese for scrap. They were towing it from Melbourne back to Japan in 1935 when the anchor chain they were using as a tow rope snapped. After numerous futile attempts to re-float the boat they gave up and left her there. She's nothing but a rusty carcass now but the size of her is still impressive. Our last stop on the island was Indian Heads (named by Captain Cook) and we climbed the rocks to the highest point on the island. While we were up there we spotted some whales diving about in the water. They were amazing to watch and seemed to be enjoying themselves. We also had our eyes peeled for dolphins and tiger sharks but weren't lucky enough to see any. Back to the bus and Jason had created a lunch of sausages (snags) and fried onions - yummy! We drove all the way back down to the ferry and only just made it through some parts of the highway as the tide was coming in pretty quickly and Jason didn't want to naigate the smaller east/west roads. The journey was pretty uneventful until we spotted a dingo in the sand dunes. One of the Spanish boys on our tour was obsessed with seeing a dingo and the cry of 'dingo! dingo!' went up as he had his first sighting. We had a fantastic time on Fraser Island, met some really nice people and learnt a lot about how parts of this amazing country was founded. We set straight off for Bundaberg and arrived at our campsite in the dead of night.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Location: Fraser Island, QLD, Australia

We were collected bright and early by our Fraser Island guide, Jason, who had been brought out of retirement for our trip. With 11 of us in total we set off on our 4wd bus for 2 days on the worlds largest sand island. We will mention at this point that Rachel doesn't like sand. We took a ferry across to Fraser Island and started our drive up the main highway - 75 mile beach. It is recognised as a public highway despite the fact that it consists entirely of sand and looks just like a beach. We were soon to discover that there isn't any tarmac on the island and that we were to get everywhere on sand. The state of the roads varies depending on the weather and the tides but Jason informed us that we had good driving conditions as we set off bumping up the beach. Our first stop was Lake Wabby - a beautiful spot which is surrounded on 3 sides by eucalyptus forest and on the 4th by a massive sandblow. The sand is encroaching on the lake at a rate of about 3m a year and in about 20 years the lake will no longer exist. We saw some massive catfish swimmin in the beautiful blue water and dipped our toes in but it was a bit chilly for a swim. We returned to the bus to be met with a lovely lunch prepared by Jason who is a bit of a good cook on the side. He is also very eccentric and regaled us with loads of tales of the island in his own, unique style. Our next stop was Lake McKenzie which was even more picturesque than Lake Wabby. The Lake is surrounded by white sillicone sand which is 98% pure and was recommended as a great exfoliator. Kieron braved the water and had a good swim about in it. Rachel preferred to lay on her towel but did go in up to her knees inorder to benefit from the exfoliating qualities of the sand. A short drive from Lake McKenzie and we arrived at Central Station, the location of the old timber cutters camp in years gone by. We had a lovely walk through the rainforest and marvelled at the crystal clear waters of the creek. We were met by Jason who had boiled the billys for a cup of tea then it was on to our accommodation for the night. The Eurong beach resort offered a mexican buffet for dinner and real beds which, after 2 weeks in the back of a camper van is a luxury!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Location: Rainbow Beach, QLD, Australia

We were sorry to be leaving our lovely campsite in Cotton Tree but adventures were calling so we set off for Noosa. We were really looking forward to visiting this little town after hearing lots of good reports but were a bit disappointed when we got there. The sea was brown, the beach was rocks and the locals were nowhere near as friendly as others we have met. Suffice to say we stayed for a coffee and left for Rainbow Beach. We arrived at our campsite to be met by the owner, Dallas - a man who was very serious about his moustache! We wandered across the campsite and found a lovely waterfront where we watched locals fishing as the sun set. We also found a Thai restaurant and decided to have dinner here. The food was fantastic and we had a lovely night. Early to bed in preparation for an early pick up in the morning.....

Saturday, 09 August 2008

Location: Australia Zoo, QLD, Australia

Up bright and early for a day at the famous Australia Zoo. We were picked up by the courtesy bus outside the RSL club (everything revolves around this place!) and made our way to the zoo. We did wonder about whether we should visit a zoo on our tight shedule but it's the home of the crocodile hunter so we thought we probably should. As it turns out we were so glad that we did as it was unlike any other zoo we had visited. The animals were free to roam in semi-natural habitats and the wildlife warrior message was loud and clear. We felt like we'd been well educated by the time it came to leave. Particular highlights were feeding kangaroos, petting koalas and seeing a cheetah being walked round the park on a lead! We've recommended it to everyone who's asked and getting the chance to see such big crocs up close was something else! After the excitement of the previous night it was salad on the beach as the sun went down.

Friday, 08 August 2008

Location: Surfers Paradise, QLD, Australia

Drove up the famous Gold Coast Highway taking in all of the beaches on the way. Stopped off in Surfers for a look around and were bombarded by a Blackpool type resort. Got some special photos taken but you'll have to wait to see them! Carried on our way to stay the night in Mooloolaba but the caravan park was full. We moved on up the coast to several more parks which were also full. Evidently, the old folk from the south spend the winter up here and everywhere had been booked up for months. We were starting to feel like Mary and Joseph when we were finally taken in by a kind lady in Cotton Tree who rented us her last patch of grass. We really had struck gold as we found ourselves in the most beautiful little corner with the ocean lapping the sand just behind our pitch. On Pam and Graham's advice we decided to give the local RSL club a go for dinner and we were so glad we did. It was a huge place undergoing building work to become even huger and the opporrtunity to lose money was massive. There were more slot machines that you'd find in Las Vegas and pensioners were happily feeding them all they had. The dinner was fantastic, the beer was cheap and we had a great time.

Thursday, 07 August 2008

Location: Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Had a fantastic night out last night and can understand why some people come here to visit and never actually leave (don't panic Gazette and Heathfield colleagues...we did manage to drag ourselves away!) We had a mesmerising stare at the ocean and beach, a quick shop resulting in purchases for Rachel and a much needed coffee for Kieron. Our stay in Byron Bay has been one of the highlights so far. The short drive to Bangalow resulted in another purchase and we now have a lovely ceramic bird to adorn our home. Another lovely town with a more mature and affluent vibe than Byron but no less relaxed. After our short stop in Bangalow it was off to the Nightcap National Park to take in some of the far north coast hinterland. We parked Skippy up and set off on the 4km return trip to see the Minyon Falls. The walk through the rainforest was fantastic despite a few steep climbs and the sun shining through the lush green canopy above us was simply amazing. All was going well until the path stopped and the only option was to start climbing the large rocks ahead of us. Had we read the description of the walk properly before we set off we would have been prepared to 'scramble over well worn rocks for the final 200m to the base of Minyon Falls'. The scramble was well worth the effort as the falls were breathtaking. Water plunges over 100m into a rainforest gorge surrounded by a flora reserve. We had to put all of out best rock climbing skills to work to navigate the rocks and view the falls from every angle but felt that we had seen the best they had to offer and left smiling. We drove on to Mullumbimby where Kieron declared he needed a beer after too many miles of steep winding road so we called into the RSL (Returned Services League) club for refreshment. These clubs are in every town and are absolute gems. The dress code stated no work apparel, sports apparel or rollers in your hair so we entered the bar with confidence. The club was like nothing else we had ever seen and featured lots of old guys and gals sipping beer and feeding slot machines. There was also greyhound racing on screens, Benny Hill re-runs on TV and a raffle for a BBQ. After our experiences here we set off for Tweed Heads, crossing the border for our first night in Queensland.

Wednesday, 06 August 2008

Location: Coffs Harbour, Australia

Sunshine! Hurray! After breakfast we wandered down to the marina and took in the glorious sight that Coffs had to offer. We kicked off our flip flops and had our first feel of sand and sea between our toes. We have never seen sea so blue and so clear. It really is amazing. The water was slightly warmer than Redcar (it is winter here) but it still wasn't warm enough for the triathletes to be swimmin about a mile off the shore. They didn't seem to mind but we left them to it and kept our speedo's under wraps for warmer climes. Nex stop was Grafton - a lovely little town with a street full of history and colonial buildings. We carried on to beautiful Ballina for an ice cream by the sea. Then it was up the Coastal Road through the amazing views at Lennox Head and on to Byron Bay. We got a campsite right by the ocean. It hasn't rained yet and we are chancing our arm for a night out. The relaxed hippy vibe here is nothing like anywhere else we have seen so we're off to enjoy it.

Tuesday, 05 August 2008

Location: Port Macquarie, Australia

With all signs of the previous nights storm vanished we enjoyed pottering around pretty Port Macquarie in the glorious sunshine. We visited the old courthouse which was built in the 1800's and was the last remaining historic building in the town. We enjoyed a lunch of freshly caught fish and chips (Hoki, not Cod) on a bench over looking the sea. It was our first real look at the South Pacific Ocean and we were mesmerised by the sunlight dancing off the waves. We loaded up Skippy and set off for Coffs Harbour in our t-shirts and shorts. We passed the famous Freddo's pies on our way up the Pacific Highway so we stopped off and purchased dinner. We booked into a fantastic campsite in Coffs and had a brisk hour and a half walk on the beach - heaven! Then came the rain. Luckily we were back in the van so we warmed our pies up and Rachel did her famous 'falling asleep mid sentance' trick.

Monday, 04 August 2008

Location: In the van, NSW, Australia

After a fantastic night of uninterrupted sleep and a lovely hot shower we got ready to set off again. Kieron had his first shave in a week and went from swarthy pirate to fresh faced youth in a matter of minutes! We headed to what the Lonely Planet guide described as a natural phenomenon. An underground coal seam that had been smoking for thousands of years and was set to smoke for thousands more. We were both intrigued and, despite Keith telling us it wasn't worth bothering with, we headed for it. All we can say is that Keith is a wise man. A candle could produce more smoke than Burning Mountain! We did enjoy the 5km walk to the mystical site and Kieron spotted his first kangaroo. A little deflated, we carried on our journey and decided to drive through the early evening to Port Macquarie. We expected the 200km drive to take about 2 1/2 hours but, yet again, the map didn't illustrate fully the horror that lay ahead. With Atko at the wheel and Goldberg sucking down Toohey's we navigated the Oxley Highway. I can only suggest you try and find it on Google Earth and observe the steepest inclines, declines and sharp corners first hand, through the thickest forest imagineable - then imagine it in the pitch black. Throughout the entire journey (4 1/2 hours) we could see lightening illuminating the width of the sky ahead and you can imagine our delight when we arrived in Port Macquarie, the epicentre of the storm. Thankfully the rain had stopped and we managed a take out lasagne before falling fast asleep.

Sunday, 03 August 2008

Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia

Woke up in Lithgow at about 3am to the sound of a freight train going past. In the cold light of day we discovered we had parked the van about 50m from the train track so it was harly surprising we heard it during the night. We set off on the long drive to the Hunter Valley over the Bells of Line Road which was spectacular. We passed through so many different kinds of country it was hard to keep track of where we were. We passed through a big fruit growing area and bought the biggest kiwi's in the world and a cracking apple pie. As the land flattened out we passed the beginnings of a bush fire which was right on the side of the road. We could feel the heat in the van as we passed by and wondered what we could do to alert somebody to the fire. The roads out here are pretty deserted so there was a good chance we were the only vehicle in a 10 mile radius. As luck would have it we drove past a fire station about a mile from the fire so we did our good deed for the day and reported the blaze to a somewhat unfazed fireman. He eventually stopped washing his fire truck and headed out to the fire. Before we knew it we were in wine country and the first stop was, rather surprisingly, the Blue Tongue lager brewery. Kieron ordered a paddle of 6 beers to taste and was soon in his element. Next stop was the Audrey Wilkinson vineyard which is possibly the most beautiful vista that either of us have ever seen. The rolling hill covered with vines were perfectly placed and sparkled under the afternoon sun. A good few wines later and a couple of purchases under our belt we set off for Peterson's Champagne House. We tasted lots of different kinds of fizz and bought a bottle of pink for a later date. The whole area is covered in vines at every turn and it's easy to see how so many great wines are produced here. Next stop was Rachel's mum's friends (Wendy and Keith) so we got underway. We eventually found their fantastic house and were welcomed in for drinks and dinner. Keith had prepared a lovely pea soup (which we eventually decided contained mint!) and Wendy had cooked up a cracking beef curry and delicious dessert. Just what the doctor ordered for a couple of weary travellers! We spent the night chatting and catching up in front of a cosy wood burner and had the luxury of a real bed for the night!

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Recent Messages

From rosemary
just logged on to the website and got very jealous, you sound like you've had the holiday of a lifetime. Glad its been as good as you hoped it would be. We got back from Portugal last week to a flood in the bedroom and lounge!
See you in September, maybe, if you decide to come back!
Luv Rosemary
Response: We're having the best time ever. Monday will be very hard!
From Mum
Love the card,I'm going to have it framed!!
Response: Ha! Ha! Glad you liked it!
From Mum
Where's Bangalow and Cotton Tree? Can't find them on my map!!
Response: Bangalow's 14km west of Byron Bay and Cotton Tree is north of Maloolaba. I'll find them for you when we get back! x
From Alan
Just had a quick update of your adventure as I have not had chance for a few days and it clearly just gets better and better you lucky things. I've got visions of Kieron returning to work in shorts and flip flops looking totally bewildered!
Response: Don't know about the flip flops but bewildered definitely!
From Zoe
you still there? not bored of the old holiday thing yet? think you should look into selling tickets for the big Goldsborough/Atkinson photo extravaganza, what you think? xx
Response: Still here and not nearly ready to come home. I'll get Ticketmaster onto the photo show!
From Dad
Sounds like you are having a great time. We have just got back from Mexico having had to endure two extra days all inclusive because of flight delays.
Isn't life a bitch!
Response: We're having the time of our lives. It'll be a wrench to leave this wonderful country. You can see how great it is when we get back.
From Eileen Goldsborough
sounds as if you are both well and enjoying Australia.
We arrived back this morning at 4am after a 44 hour delay, we had to refuel in Canada.
It was quite a journey.
Will e mail again as soon when we have had some sleep.
Love to you both,
Phil and Eileen.
Response: Sounds like you've had quite an ordeal. We'll both have to put on a photo show when we get back!
From Mum
Good to see you're having such a good time,I hope there's plenty of photos. Kieron you'll have to do the same as you did for David and Rose's tales, then I can print it off. XXXx
Response: Lots of photos - you'll regret asking to see them. Kieron will make a book for you. x
From Clair
I love reading about your adventures! Keep it up it sounds brilliant! I got back from the Cotswolds yesterday, I went with Claudia in the end but that's a long story... Keep having a great time, miss you! x
Response: I thought I didn't see anyone other than you and Claudia in the photos! Can't wait to hear that sorry tale! Miss you loads. x
From Linda P
Just back from Bulgaria - also very hot!! - Glad you are having a good time - Keep enjoying - The 1st September will be here before you know it!!

Linda P
Response: I'm trying not to think about it!!
From Lynne
Sounds as though you are having a fantastic time. We have just got back from Devon. some sunshine but lots of rain. Definately not staying in England next year!!! Had a good time though, but not as good as yours by the sounds. Have a great time.

love Lynne

PS Dont let Keith know he is wise!!!!
Response: Come to Oz Mrs Nic!! Caravanning is massive here!
From Julie
Beautiful Byron, I am sure you are enjoying it - you may never leave.................
Response: We didn't want to! Aiming for Noosa tomorrow though....another gorgeous place!
From zoe
It's all sounding great; beer, pirates, flip flops and ladyboys - just what any good holiday should contain! Keep us posted. xx
Response: It's fab but we're missing you all!
From Alan
Got your text Kieron but daren't reply on the company mobile , i'll get fired. Sounds like you are having just an amazing time and me and Jango are excited for you! All is well here so do not fret about the sad world of newspapers, adverts, websites & promotions - just enjoy!!
Response: Thanks Chief but I hadn't given it a second thought! PS. it doesn't cost the company any more for you to text me when I'm abroad.
From Mum
Enjoying readingyour adventures and marking everywhere on my map!
Response: That map will look like a rainbow! Have you got seperate colours for me and Dovid?
From Jamie (Sausage)
If you keep writing this much then the internet will get full and you break the world wide web. Have you ever thought about writing a book?
Sounds like you're having a ball! Things will warm up soon. Tell Kieron to try a Redback beer (they're from WA but you should be able to find them in a drive in), they are awesome. Also have you seen how cheap the Pizza's are yet?

Oh and put some photo's on please.

Response: Will keep an eye out for the beer. Will try to add photos at our next stop but they take ages to download so don't hold your breath!
From Clair
It sounds like you're having a super time! And glad to hear there's not much chance of you starving over there! Hehe, keep up the good work!
Response: It's truly amazing and it's getting sunnier by the day! Beats England any day!
From Lindy
Sounds wonderful and the photos of the hotels are out of this world! Have a great time, I am looking forward to reading more of your daily adventures! x
Response: We've left the comforts of relatives and friends now so the updates may be sporadic but keep looking!
From Mum
To Kieron, don't say spiders!!
Response: He can't go to the toilet without checking the surrounding 3 metres for concealed spiders!!!
From Ady & Denise
Happy Belated Anniversary Kids....hope ye are having a great jealous.

Lots of Love

Ady & Denise
Response: Having a great time thanks. Definitely a good place for a honeymoon!
From Julie
Sounds like you are having a fantastic time. Hope you are enjoying the beautiful city of Sydney.

There's a quiz at the Crown on 12th August - are you both OK to pop back for it??

Loads of love

Response: Quiz sounds great but I'll have to give you the reins just this once. Remember to take 2 pens and keep the Jamies focussed!
From Mum
enjoyed reading poor Rach's experiences in Bangkok, wish I could have been there to see the look on her face!! Xx
Response: It's a look I'll never forget! Unfortunately I was laughing too much to get any photographic evidence! k x
From Clair
It's great to be able to read about your adventures at last!! Hope things will be less smelly in Australia and I can't wait for the next installment! Have fun and I hope you've remembered to record The Bill. You'll have some catching up to do when you get back! Take care the pair of you and have fun xxxx
Response: Already on it...The Bill is series linked. Can't wait for the 10 hours I'll have to watch when I get back!
From Alan
Great to catch up on your adventure. Me and Jango are comforting each other in your absence x
Response: Glad to hear it. Will keep you updated as we go. Off to pick the camper van up this morning then we're heading to the mountains - look out for bears!
From Jamie (Sausage)
Are you there yet?
Hope Rachel doesn't find out that your big anniversary surprise is a night in the ping pong bars sampling cocktails (and I don't mean drinks either).
Have fun the pair of you!
Response: Didn't see ping pongs but got my photo taken with some ladyboys!