A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: OzJourney

Trip Summary

Wonderful Memories

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Well here it is mid-June and I have finally got around to writing this summary of our amazing adventure circumnavigating this huge, diverse and wonderful country we call home. We are both back working and dreaming of a time in the future when we can head off again and visit all of the places that we missed on our big lap. The journey was a life changing, once in a lifetime adventure that we would have loved to be able to extend for another year if we could have.

After 11 months on the road traveling the far reaches of Australia we arrived home to two very happy dogs and our property looking fantastic. Well done to our house sitters Sofia and Johne who did a marvellous job caring for our animals and our five acre property while we were away.
The adjustment back into “normal” life has been difficult. The pace of life on the road slows right down and you have time to appreciate the simple things like sunrises and sunsets, nature, the natural rhythms of life and the freedom of not having a schedule. As humans, we seek novelty, new experiences, sensations, surroundings, and travel gives us this on a daily basis. Every day is different and exciting, meeting new people, seeing new sights and enjoying a simpler, slower pace of life that is so foreign in today’s fast paced world.

What would we do differently if we did the same trip again? Deb would have liked her own toilet and shower within the camper so a hybrid camper with these features would have allowed us to free camp a lot more than we did. I was quite happy with our setup, the off road performance and durability of the Kimberley camper trailer allowed us to get to very remote places and was comfortable to live out of for the duration of the trip. We were very happy with our timing and direction of travel. With the exception of some unseasonal cool and rainy weather in the south west of WA in March, we enjoyed great weather with no more rain until we reached Cairns in October.

What were our most useful purchases/modifications we did before the trip? Before leaving, I replaced the centre console in the patrol with a Waeco 11 litre compressor fridge. This proved invaluable in being able to keep drinks and food cold and at hand while travelling. It also meant freeing up space in our main fridge by being able to keep all our drinks in the console fridge. The other two invaluable items were both apps for the iPad. The Hema 4wd Maps app was brilliant in allowing us to plot the days travel ahead on the iPad and then to show our position on the map as we went along. The other app was Wikicamps, which was invaluable for finding campsites and reading comments of fellow travellers about what to expect.

A couple of nice quotes to finish up.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine it's lethal”

“Travel is not reward for working, it’s education for living.”

The Stats

Our Big Lap began on the 02-02-2017 and ended on 20-12-2017 (322 days).
We travelled 37,346km, spent $9165 on fuel and averaged 17L/100km which was pretty reasonable considering we were heavily loaded, had a lot of stuff on the roof rack creating wind resistance and did a lot of off road driving.
We stayed at 107 different campsites.

Best Camps

Carrarang Station (WA)
Cactus (SA)
Memory Cove (SA)
Ravenshoe Railway Caravan Park (QLD)
Elim Beach (QLD)
Alau Beach (QLD)
Ningaloo Station (WA)
Red Bluff (WA)
Middle Lagoon (WA)
Cape Trib Camping - Cape Tribulation (QLD)

Best Towns

Darwin (NT)
Kununurra (WA)
Byron Bay (NSW)
Mallacoota (VIC)
South West Rocks (NSW)

Best National Parks

Lawn Hill (QLD)
Kakadu (NT)
Ningaloo Marine Park (WA)
Cape Le Grande (WA)
Garig Gunak Barlu (NT)
Purnululu (WA)

Best Beaches

Ningaloo Station (WA)
Twilight Beach (WA)
Cape Arid (WA)
Cape Leveque – Kooljamon (WA)
Cape Tribulation (QLD)
Mission Beach (QLD)
Byron Bay (NSW)

Best Walk Trails

Lawn Hill – Island Walk (QLD)
Stirling Ranges – Bluff Knoll (WA)
Agnes Water – Red Rock Trail (QLD)
Kakadu – Ubirr and Gunlom (NT)
Keep River – Jarnem Loop Walk (WA)
El Questro Gorge (WA)
Manning Gorge (WA)
Purnululu – Cathedral Gorge (WA)
Mitchell Falls (WA)

Best Drives

Overland Telegraph Track (QLD)
Gibb River Road (WA)
Bloomfield Track (QLD)
Savannah Way (NT)
Cahills Crossing to Smiths Point – Garig Gunak Barlu NP (NT)
Wanna to Sleaford 4wd Track (SA)

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Posted by OzJourney 23:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Lakes Entrance

Our Last Camp

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Our last stop on our 11 month big lap of Australia was Lakes Entrance, which wasn’t the place I really wanted to end our amazing journey but Deb was keen on a hot shower, a caravan park and some shops to do a little xmas shopping. Our two nights here were forgettable as most caravan parks are not places we usually like to stay at, and even though the park was well priced and well looked after you just don’t get the atmosphere that a bush camp has.

Our time was spent visiting nearby Metung, Lake Tyers and the main beach. Kalimna Lookout just out of town gives good views of the entrance and lake. The weather was overcast while we were here and on the last night around 7pm we encountered a wild storm which brought thunder, lightning, heavy rain and strong winds. We survived the onslaught with no damage but the next morning as we were packing up it started raining again, so with wet canvas we packed up for the last time and headed home in the rain.

The drive home was full of mixed emotions, sadness that the trip was over, the anticipation of seeing family, our two dogs, and our property and the realisation that slotting back into the rat race and all of its responsibilities that we had left behind 11 months ago was not going to be easy. Our last blog will follow shortly with a summary of our trip and a few thoughts on what places we liked best, what we would do differently and what items were indispensable on our journey. Stay tuned.

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Posted by OzJourney 21:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cape Conran

Camping Paradise

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Cape Conran is situated on the east coast of Victoria close to Marlo, which sits at the mouth of the Snowy River. Banksia Bluff is a large national park campground with over 130 unpowered sites spread out over 1 kilometre and situated next to a beautiful sandy beach with a rocky headland at the western end. The sites are large with a mixture of sun and shade with plenty of trees and shrubs for wind protection. We chose site 126, which is large with a view through the trees to the beach. There are flushing toilets, bore water taps, fireplaces and cold showers. The cost per night is $40 per site in peak times, including all weekends, which is ridiculous for basic facilities. However, the campsites and surrounding beach, river and rain forest are so good it makes you forget the Victorian government’s greed. This campground was one of our best on our big lap and we will be back.

There are quite a few nice walks to do while staying here with our favourite being the Yeerung Estuary View Trail, which follows the course of the river through rain forest to the mouth. East Cape Boardwalk was also a nice walk around the headland to some small rocky beaches great for beach combing, with thousands of shells to sift through. The wildlife in the campground kept us entertained, with wombats, goannas, kookaburras, possums and a large variety of birds paying us a visit.

The eastern side of East Cape, which is protected in winds from the southwest to the north, is popular with surfers but unfortunately while we were there the swell was tiny so it was fishing and snorkeling instead. The beach in front of camp had a gutter that produced some nice salmon at high tide. One afternoon I decided to try my luck snorkeling for crayfish around some likely looking reef I had spotted on our East Cape walk. After parking the car in a small car park as close as I could get to the spot and suiting up, three fisheries officers drove up, checked my fishing license and asked what I was chasing. They said I would be better off driving around to Joiners Channel and try for crays there. I should not have listened as I never even saw a crayfish in that area.

A drive around to West Cape is worthwhile to view the interesting rock formations there and to check out the catches of the fishos returning to the excellent boat ramp. The short walk from the boat ramp around to Salmon Rocks gives you elevated views of the coastline and more rock formations. Being able to have a campfire again was wonderful and we enjoyed some great camp oven food and the good old roasted potatoes in the fire. Our four days here were highly enjoyable, relaxing and with plenty to do, a few more days would have been great, but with the trip nearly over, we needed to push for home.

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Posted by OzJourney 20:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Mallacoota

Far East Victoria

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Saltwater Creek campground in the Ben Boyd National Park south of Eden was to be our next destination but our run of outs in these southern NSW national parks continued. We don’t like booking sites unseen but decided we should check a couple of days before leaving Pambula as to the availability of a site and much to our disappointment the campground was booked out. So Mallacoota was our next stop and what a great place it was. There was a touch of sadness as we crossed the border back into our home state after 10 months away and the realisation that the trip of a lifetime was nearly over. However Mallacoota situated in the far east of Victoria was an absolute gem and we wondered why we had never found this place years ago.

We stayed at the Mallacoota Foreshore Caravan Park which is a huge park along the banks of the inlet and ocean foreshore with nice grassy sites and great views of the inlet and nearby hills. The park was fairly quiet in mid December but it is not hard to imagine how different it would be with its 700 sites full over January. With its extensive inlet and ocean beaches Mallacoota is a fisherman’s paradise and caters to boat and land based anglers with lots of boat ramps, fishing jetties around the inlet and surf beaches.

The surrounding forests have vehicle access tracks and walking tracks where you can explore this pristine area. Places we enjoyed were Sandy Point (nice picnic area), Sou West Arm (jetty) and Gypsy Point (very picturesque town on the Genoa River). A drive along the Bekta Road takes you to a number of lovely beaches. Bekta Beach has a nice picnic area and good swimming in the estuary of the Bekta River or the ocean beach. Quarry Beach has interesting coloured rock strata to the left of the car park. Secret Beach is our pick of the beaches with interesting rock features at both ends and a sea cave you can enter at low tide. Shipwreck Creek can be reached by following a 4wd track through the forest to a campground and beach with a creek running into the ocean. The last 7km of the track was full of potholes and required careful driving.

I managed to catch some nice fish off one of the jetties around the inlet on a beautiful sunny morning. Four nice tailor and a 47cm flathead provided some nice fish meals. The inlet was closed to the ocean while we were there which was affecting the fishing but there were still plenty of boats heading out every day. Mallacoota is a great little country town unspoilt by large commercial interests, so you won’t find fast food outlets here. We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 nights in Mallacoota (one night longer than we had planned) and will definitely be back in the future for a longer stay.

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Posted by OzJourney 01:02 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Pambula Beach

Beach and Bush

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Our next destination was going to be Hobart Beach in the Bournda National Park but the dysfunctional NSW National Parks online booking service failed us again. On arrival at the campground there were very few campers there and a huge amount of vacant sites, however a large sign at the entrance warned that camp sites had to be booked online or over the phone beforehand. Having picked out a number of suitable empty sites we went online to book only to find the system would only allow bookings from the Saturday onwards, this day being Thursday. Ringing the phone number provided was equally useless as it wasn’t working. So this left us with the prospect of setting up on a site hoping no one with a booking turned up and we had to move and the other problem of the ranger turning up and fining us for not paying the camp fee. Needless to say we left and drove on to Pambula.

The Discovery Park at Pambula Beach was a great alternative with our camp site behind the dune at the beach. The long sandy beach is beautiful with the Pambula River mouth a short walk to the south. The beach was great for a swim, surfing or fishing. The park itself was excellent with great amenities, a pool, spa, camp kitchen with upstairs lounge room and grassy sites. The wildlife visiting us every day included lots of kangaroos, multicoloured parrots, ducks, magpies and numerous smaller birds.

We stayed here for four nights and loved it, with lots to see and do. The Pambula market on Sunday was good with lots of variety and some local fruit and vegies to replenish our supplies. There are lots of great beaches in the area including Tura, Short Point and Quondola, Severs and a number of others in Ben Boyd National Park to the south. Haycock Point in Ben Boyd was also worth a look. A walk out to Tura Head gives great views of the coastline.

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Posted by OzJourney 23:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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