Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Sunshine Coast

June 20 – Sunshine Coast
Beau got up before me this morning and played guitar for a bit before I joined him to make breakfast. After our oatmeal Beau set to work on the van trying to figure out which brake was squeaking. He jacked up the van and spin each tire but nothing squeaked for him. The back passenger wheel though wouldn't spin well so we think it might be that one. Once the van was back on all fours we drove into Caloundra and got some info on the Sunshine Coast. We also popped into the library so Beau could e-mail his resume to Bombardier. Once out of there we started driving up the coast, we went through the town of Mooloolaba and then stopped to make lunch in Marcoola. We made ribs with potatoes on the bbq. They were pre-cooked beef ribs and weren't too bad. Afterwards we continued on to Coolum Beach where we decided to stop for the night. We popped some laundry in and went for a nice walk along the beach. After our lovely beach walk we hung the laundry to dry, unfortunately in the shade now, and walked over to the liquor store for a new box of wine. This time we bought a 4L box. We also popped into a dollar store and bought some beach towels for $5 each. We are hoping we'll be spending more time on the beach and I'd rather not get my shower towel all salty and sandy. We then sat in the fading sunlight with a cup of wine and a book/guitar. We made some sidekick noodle things again and got talking with another travelling couple who were also Canadian. We chatted for awhile until we decided it was too chilly to be outside. It's frigid tonight. Beau and I made some Milo with milk and enjoyed it back in the van with a book.
Coolum Beach

Coolum Beach
June 21 – Noosa
We enjoyed our breakfast in our camp chairs in the sunshine. Our laundry that had been out all night now had a hope of drying in the morning sun. We got our laundry all packed up and put away before driving up towards Noosa. We stopped at Sunshine Beach and spent a few hours surfside. Beau and I kicked around the beach ball but there was a slight wind and the ball didn't go where it was supposed to. I gave up and read on my towel while Beau went for a walk on the beach. When Beau got back from his stroll he tried to just chill on the beach but was too antsy to sit still. He went in the water and was inspired to try body-surfing by some guys attempting to surf. He had a lot of fun as well as many face-fulls of water. I waded into the water for a little bit. The water was actually quite warm. When Beau got our he was pretty wiped so he rinsed off and then we made some guacamole in the park for lunch. We drove into Noosa and stopped into the visitors center to find out where the library was. We'd both had enough of the sun for the day. We spent a bit of time getting up to date on our blogs then headed down for a few groceries as well as a hair trimmer. Beau's hair is out of control and I'm going to attempt to mow it for him... gulp. Noosa is a really pretty little town with lots of canals and waterways through out. There were some really nice places with docks and boats on the canals. We headed out of Noosa as the sun was starting to set. We were headed towards Gympie and stopped at a rest stop just out of town. The rest stop was packed with campervans, caravans and RVs. It wasn't a bad little spot though because it was sheltered from the highway a bit and it was free. We made fish curry for dinner but the potatoes was barely cooked enough and everything else was almost too cooked. It still tasted good though.

June 22 – Tin Can Bay
With no check out time we slept in a little bit then got up to make some breakfast at a picnic table. The sky was a mix of sun and cloud but we got some sunshine with our breakfast. After cleaning and packing up we moved the van closer to the picnic tables and I attempted to cut Beau's hair. Unfortunately the inverter wasn't up to the challenge of powering the razor but luckily it died before I even started. We drove out of our rest stop and onwards to Tin Can Bay via Gympie. Once in Tin Can Bay we checked into a rather run down park but it was a couple steps up from the other option in town. Sadly at this point it had clouded over. I set to work cutting Beau's hair which turned out okay although it took a little while. We both had a quick shower since we were covered in hair then made some lunch. We made french toast for lunch but since we lacked vanilla, syrup and butter they just weren't that great. We took a walk along the water and scoped out where the dolphin feeding was supposed to take place in the morning. Once back at our site we set up the table and chairs outside and guitared/read as well as munched on some Doritos. I went in to read once the sun went down since it got chilly. When Beau came in we hummed and hawed about dinner but since neither one of us was very hungry we just had some cheese and crackers.
Tin Can Bay

Saturday, 23 June 2012


June 17 – Tweed Coast
Well it was back to oatmeal this morning as we finished off our eggs yesterday. I guess I've gone a few days with out it but man I didn't miss it. We got showered and battened down the hatches before hitting the road. We popped into a chemist on the way out of Byron Bay so we could get us more sunscreen, me some cough meds and Beau new soap. I still have chesty cough going on so I figured I should try to do something about it. We got back on the highway for a bit then off of it for another tourist drive. On our way through Hastings Point we stopped at a lookout which was quite spectacular. It's also a gorgeous sunny day so that helps. In the distance we could see huge splashes of water from whales jumping and breaching. Sadly they we much too far away for my little camera, but it was pretty cool to see. We drove up to Tweed Heads and made some tuna sandwiches at Rainbow Bay. We had a walk along the beach in the sunshine but since we hadn't put sunscreen on that morning I didn't want to be out in it too long. I think we'll have to start slathering up every morning again. We started down the road again but stopped when we saw a “Welcome to New South Wales” sign. We were confused until we realized that the state boarder runs through the middle of town! Strangely there was no “Welcome to Queensland” sign. After taking a picture with the boarder marker we set out again and headed up the Gold Coast. We drove through the towns along the beach like Surfers Paradise. The ocean looked amazing but there were tons of high rises everywhere. Beau was also getting quite frustrated with the traffic since every time we almost got up to speed we'd hit a red light. We got out of the Gold Coast snarl and back on the freeway into Brisbane. We found our caravan park with little trouble, only one U-turn needed because we missed the turn due to the itty bitty street signs. After checking in we left shortly after for Linda's place, Mom's cousin. We found Linda's street with little difficulty but had a touch of trouble finding the house. We parked and walked up the street but knew we had gone to far, then we found the teeny tiny numbers that denoted 93. We accidentally came around the back because we went in the wrong gate but we made it. We had a lovely evening with Linda, we told her all about our trip and she shared her plans and some pictures of her daughter and grandson. Dinner was amazing with roast chicken and potatoes as well as Pavlova for dessert. A proper Sunday dinner. We said our good byes and hope to see each other again some time. We had a little trouble getting back to the park since a coupe streets we couldn't turn right onto but we eventually made it onto the right road only to get caught in a random breathalyser check. We were both a little nervous since we had some wine at dinner but Beau blew a triple zero (or 0.000) so it didn't even detect his glass of wine. Phew. We made it back to the park without further incident and wrapped up our evening in the usual way
Hastings Point

Humpback Whale

Queensland-New South Wales Boarder

Dinner with Linda
June 18 – Brisbane
We awoke to a beautiful sunny day, perfect for exploring Brisbane. It was only four km into the city from our park so we decided to bike in. Our bike ride turned out to be a little more strenuous than we thought since we had to go up a few hills. We biked along the sidewalk till we found the bike path into the city. We reached the CBD and started off at the Queen Elizabeth Mall which was actually a pedestrian street. It also had the information center. We got the down low on sights to see and started out on a self guided walking tour. We quickly gave up on our walking tour since we kept missing the alleged sights it was also the arts and architecture tour. Brisbane is on a river and there a bunch of pedestrian bridges crossing it. We took a funky one across and started walking along a riverside boardwalk. We knew we wanted to take a ferry along the river but had to figure out which to take. We were in the area called South Bank and popped into another info place where we got the dl on the ferries and were recommended to walk along the river to next ferry terminal along. South Bank was very cool with some restaurants and shops as well as a pool with a man made beach. Seemed like the spot to be on a gorgeous day. We continued our way along the boardwalk past the Maritime Museum. We walked up to the top of the cliffs that run along the south bank and were rewarded with a great view of the city. Once we reached our ferry wharf we hopped on the City Ferry and were taken across the river where we had to change boats to a City Cat. The City Cats are the fast ferries and go up and down the river for some distance. We were headed down stream. There were soooo many massive houses along the water with huge boats out front. It was really enjoyable to see the city from the river. We went to almost the end of the ferry's route which took about 30min from where we started then headed back up stream and alighted outside of the Queen Elizabeth Mall. We were feeling a bit peaked after all our biking, walking and sun so decided to head back, we also didn't want to bike in the dark. We were side tracked by a spraypaint street artist who we watched work for a little bit and then picked up some fish and fococcia bread for dinner. We wanted naan but there wasn't any so we are substituting fococcia. We retrieved our bikes and set out for home. We arrived back at the park just before the sun finished setting. We made some delicious fish curry and the focaccia went surprisingly well with it.
A City Cat on Brisbane River


A City Ferry

Story Book Bridge

Brisbane River
June 19 – Glasshouse Mountains
We awoke to another blindingly sunny day and enjoyed our oatmeal and coffee in it. We hit the road then hit up a grocery store and a gas station. Back on the road we start heading out of Brisbane but pulled into a McD's after not too long. Beau wanted to send his resume off to his buddy's boss at Bombardier but the internet was too slow to upload the file. We had some 30 cent ice cream cones than gave up on the uploading. We'll find a library tomorrow and do it then. Back on the road we drove for about 60km then turned off for the Glasshouse Mountains scenic drive. The Glasshouse Mountains were once a volcanic range surrounded by sandstone that eroded away over many 20 odd million years and left only the plugs of the volcanoes. We headed into one of the parks and made some lunch. Then went for a short hike to a lookout point. The look out was pretty good but the sun made photo's next to impossible. We drove up the road a short ways to another look out and got some great views of the surrounding mountains. I also got some pictures this time. After having our fill of the mountains we decided to check out a rest stop hoping it might be okay. Turns out it was back far enough from the main road that the noise wasn't substantial. Since we still had a bit of day light we set to work patching a small hole in the canvas was well as reattaching some velcro for the screens. With those jobs out of the way I did some crocheting while Beau played guitar. We made some sidekick like pasta with a bunch of vegetables thrown in. It turned out alright but there wasn't a lot of flavour to the sauce. We finished off our box of wine and did some more crocheting and reading. 
Mt Coonowrin

Mt Beerwah

Glasshouse Mountains

Us at the Glasshouse Mountains

Byron Bay

June 14 – Byron Bay
We were especially lazy this morning since we didn't have to get out of the caravan park for 10am. So we slept in. We made egg and sausage burritos for breakfast, showered and set up the tarp to dry out since it looked like we might finally have a nice day. We eventually made our way out of the park around 1pm. Once in town we stopped into two dive shops to see if we could go out. The dive spot here is a marine park at Julian Rocks which is rated in the top 5 dive sites in Australia. Since the weather had been pretty bad up until today there were huge swells in the bay and both dive companies thought they wouldn't be going out until Saturday at the earliest. And even then they wouldn't be making that call until Friday afternoon. We also checked out a surf school since Byron Bay is the place for learning to surf. They have also been struggling with the huge swells since it's not safe to teach people to surf when the waves are too big. We headed up to Cape Byron for the 4km walk around the point and over to the lighthouse. At Clark's Beach there was a look out atop a big rock and you had to walk through the water a little ways to get out to it. From the look out we observed a multitude of surfers. We continued along the path to Little Watego's Beach where there was another lookout on a point. Our next lookout stop was the most eastern point of mainland Australia. We reached the Cape Byron lighthouse just in time for a free tour. The lighthouse was built in 1901 and still had it's original lens in use. There was an awesome view from the top but the ocean was too choppy for any whale spotting. We followed the path back to the van then headed into town for some late Subway lunch. We made some phone calls and then headed to the visitors center to find out more about the surf schools in the area. We found a surf school that goes to a different area than most and was also the cheapest at $44 for a 4 hour lesson. We booked it and then headed to the brewery for a happy hour schooner to celebrate. After our beer we came back to the caravan park and made some dinner. We also decided that since we were going surfing tomorrow and had high hopes about diving we would stay at least another night. We decided to make it two nights since we got another 2 for 1 deal.
Surfers in Byron Bay

The Light House

Point Byron, most eastern point in mainland Australia

View south east
June 15 – Surfs Up Dude
We got up early then yesterday since we wanted to do some stuff before our 2pm surfing pick up. We made egg, sausage and vegetable grilled tacos for breakfast then headed into town to the arts and industrial park. It's supposed to be a cool/trendy area with lots of artisan shops. We went into an amazing glass blowing studio. The artists made some incredible sculptures and vases out of glass. There also thousands of dollars. Unfortunately there wasn't going to be any glass blowing until 1:30 and we were going to have to miss that since we had our surf lesson later. We then went into a wood working shop with some great looking furniture. They also sold unfinished pieces of wood that you could take home and work on yourself. Pretty cool! The lady there was very nice and was already putting her two year old to work oiling the cutting boards they sold. After that we went into a jewellery studio they sold some awesome pieces of metal working. Made me itch to get my hands on some tools and wire! We then went into a leather place that smelled great. It also had some beautiful purses and Beau was eyeing up a leather notepad cover. We didn't find too many other shops after this so we decided to head back. Once back at the campsite we set to work applying the waterproofing spray we bought as well as fixing our leaks. We should be now ready when it rains again which hopefully it won't since we have done all this work. We made some lunch, threw a bag together with towels and such and went out to meet our surfing pick up. The van picked us up, there were 6 other people plus the two instructors. The older guy was very entertaining in a zoned out surfer sort of way. We headed south to Ballina where we were in a protected bay. The waves were pretty small, ankle snappers in surfing lingo, but they were big enough that we could learn to surf without getting tumbled by the waves. We wet suited up, did some beach work first then set out in the water. Beau and I got up our first try but our first try also had the instructor supporting the board and giving us a boost to get up to speed with the wave. After a few of those starts we started trying the catch our own wave. We were in waist deep water so we had to push off the bottom, jump on our board, paddle paddle paddle, then once we were going stand up. We were both successful but I think Beau caught more wave than me. The sun was starting to set and we were all chilly and ready to go in. By the time we got back to the caravan park it was dark and we were cold, salty and hungry. We had a steamy hot shower and decided to go in to town for dinner. We were feeling much to lazy to cook. We had seen a place advertising $7 burgers so we thought we would check that out. Once in we saw there was fish and chips for $9 and for an extra $3.50 you could add more fish and chips. We decided on that instead of a burger and also got a jug of beer. The Aquarius Bar, where we were, is attached to a hostel and had a little buffet dinner for the residents it also meant there was going to be “entertainment” later in the form of karaoke. When our meal arrived it was huge! There were 6 pieces of fish, a mound of fries, and salad. We were stuffed when we finished our meal and karaoke was about to start. They were offering free beer to the first 10 performers. I said what the hell and “sang” Tracy Byrd's “Drinkin' Bone” which nobody knew and Beau sang “You've lost that loving feeling.” We had some fun and got a free drink out of it. 
Our surf area

June 16 – Lazy Day
We had hoped to go diving today but the swell in the bay was too big so they didn't think it was worth going out. So instead we had a lazy day. We slept in and had a toasted egg, avocado and tomato sandwich for breaky. Beau skyped his parents and then I skyped Mom and Dad (we have free wifi at the park). Afterwards we had a nice walk along the beach and then came back and had some guac and chips for lunch. We lazed about in our arm chairs reading until the sun went down. It cooled off pretty quick without the sun. We made dinner and then did some computer updating. It's hard to do much at night besides sit in the van when it gets dark at 5:30. Our day was uneventful but enjoyable none the less.
Our Beach

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Coffs Harbour and Yamba

June 11 – Coffs Harbour
The morning started off with rain and eggs Benedict yum! Nice to have a couple of mornings of change for breakfast. When we set out from South West Rocks it looked like the day might brighten up but our hops were quickly dashed by rain, rain and more rain. We arrived in Coffs Harbour and went into the info center. The towns is more known for it's lovely outdoors scene and since it was a public holiday the library was also closed. We asked about a good place for lunch and a beer and were directed to the Deep Sea Fishing Club. Beau and I got a jug and a window seat. The view would be lovely on a gorgeous day; it overlooked the historic jetty and bay. There was supposed to be free wifi but with the rain and wind it wasn't working properly. We split a pizza and another jug before heading out. We went into McD's for some quick internet and $1 fries. We found a holiday park up the road and checked in there for the night. It was raining so hard out we started taking on water. The roof vent usually leaks a little but it was dripping pretty good. Also, the roof at the end of the van, right where the pop top connects, dripping... on the bed. We scrambled for buckets and to mop up the drips. When the rain let up we grabbed our tarp out and put it over top of the van thinking it would help which it did. We figured we had done the best we could so we went out to make dinner. We combined beans, corn, tomato and avo into a wrap with cheese and made burrito like things. We are getting good at coming up with new ideas. We headed back to the van and didn't discover any new leaks although there was still a little bit of water coming in. Well we'll have to cross our fingers that it doesn't rain too hard over night... gulp 
Coffs Harbour Historic Jetty

June 12 – Yamba
Unfortunately our tarping didn't work out quite as well as we hoped and water still got in and dripped on the bed. Uggg and it's still raining. We investigated the source of our leak and it looks like the incorrect screws were used at some point to attach the pop top support at the back and water was dripping through the hole in the fibreglass. At least we know what the problem is now so when we eventually dry out we can fix it. We had breakfast and showered before heading out to the library. It's good to get caught up on the internet indoors while it's raining. It doesn't torrentially rain all the time, more bipolar with the sun out one minute and then crazy rain the next. We got sort of updated and then went to the grocery store. We also bought a box of wine so we'll see how that goes. We travelled about 120km today to Yamba with a stop at Sandy Beach for a windy leftover bbq lunch. We found a reasonably priced park in Yamba and got ourselves set up for the night. We assumed it would continue to rain so we set up the tarp again except with our posts to hold it up too. There was an indoor camp kitchen where we made dinner and watched a bit of the news and Myth Busters before heading back to the van for some bed time reading.

June 13 – Yamba to Byron Bay
We made some awesome egg mcmuffins for breakfast this morning. They had sausage patties, cheese and egg with onion, garlic and broccoli inside. While eating breakfast we watched the news and ended up getting pretty wrapped up in it, before we knew it it was almost 10 and we had to get out of the park. After a hasty departure we drove into town. We parked the van and started walking along the waterfront and out onto the breakwall. Some pretty major breakwalls were built here in order to create a deep sea shipping port. The ocean was extremely rough and the sky over the ocean was very black. Over land though there was patchy blue sky and the weather didn't seem to be coming in land at all. We walked out fairly far onto the southern breakwall, on the way back a huge wave hit the wall and we got majorly splashed. My body mostly shielded my camera and Beau. I had a huge wet patch on my left arm, back, and thigh as well as a big hunk of hair on my face. It wasn't a pretty sight. We headed back to the van and I started strategically placing my wet things in the van to dry. Fortunately it's warm enough out of the wind to just be in my t-shirt. We popped into a campstore in town and bought some waterproofing spray for the van. Now all we need is for it stop raining. We headed out of town and on to Byron Bay. We got off the highway in Ballina and stopped into the McD's for a quick e-mail check. While there we splurged on a 30 cent soft ice cream. We did some recon on caravan parks around Byron and were at first unimpressed with the options but we scored on one that was just out of town that had a 2 for 1 deal going on and free wifi. Done! Since the place was on our way into Byron Bay we checked into the park first and then made a late lunch. We got some tourist information for the lady at reception and saw a poster for the Byron Bay Brewery. We headed over to the brewery for some $3 schooners. Beau had a dark weisse and I had the Blonde. We also tried their brown ale. Later we ordered a pizza and two more schooners before the end of happy hour. I had the Pilsner and Beau the Premium Ale. After pizza and beer we headed back to the holiday park and lazed around in the van wasting time on the internet.

The Breakwall

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Beau's Birthday, Port Macquarie, South West Rocks

June 7 – Happy 30th Beau!
We awoke to rain on Beau's 30th birthday. There was a break in the rain so we took the opportunity to make oatmeal for breakfast before it started raining again. It rained during breakfast but stopped again so we could get the dated bathrooms for a hot steamy shower. Unfortunately I am most definitely coming down with a cold. Once we were cleaned up we stopped into the office to give back the amenity's key and pay for our site. On the wall behind the reception was a beautiful picture of what the area is supposed to look like when it's nice out. We took a little drive down the peninsula to try to see if we could see the bay at all. We got a bit of a view but it was still none too nice out even though it had stopped raining. We hit the road and followed one of the tourist drives marked on the map. On the map there was an ad for a little restaurant call the Frothy Coffee Boatshed on Smiths Lake. I thought this could be a good little spot for us to stop for a birthday lunch. The weather had cleared when we arrived but sadly it wasn't warm enough to sit outside. We enjoyed a coffee with our lunch, Beau had a chicken focaccia sandwich and I had sausage with mango chutney on a baguette. We left the Frothy Coffee Boatshed very satisfied with our delicious lunch. Our drive continued on to Forster where we went to the info center and got the down low on places to stay in the area. We checked into one place then headed to the mall for some groceries. While at the mall we popped into K-Mart and I found myself a new cheap watch! Yay I can know the time again. We headed back to the park and Beau played guitar while I read. We made a delicious chicken roganjosh pizza. Yummy! We finished off the night with our a glass of muscat!
Dark and stormy Port Stephens
Perking up at the Frothy Coffee Boatshed on Smiths Lake (no pun intended)

June 8 – Forster to Taree
Our campground had a little forest walk behind it out onto a little peninsula on the river. We went for a little walk after breakfast and before our 10am check out. Afterwards we stopped into the McDonald’s to have a quick e-mail check. I had brief browse while Beau topped up the gas with our Jerry can. Then he checked his many birthday wishes. We had heard about and aboriginal arts center from the info place so we went to check it out. I was a bit disappointed though there were a lot of touristy knick knacks in the front and then at the back there were some expensive paints. Since it was lovely out we headed down to the beach and took a bike ride along the coast. At one point we stopped for a break on some benches and were watching two guys were when we spotted a dolphin! I tried to take some photo's of it and then we continued on. After our bike ride we hit the road to Taree. There we took advantage of some free bbq's and made up a delicious grilled tuna wrap. It was bursting at the seams with avo, tomato, onion, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms. Our final destination for the night was Coopernook Forest Park which was a free campground. Since we had plenty of day light still Beau tried to have a look to see what the deal was with the reverse lights. We got really lucky though and it turns out they just hadn't been plugged back in. Yay for easy fixes. The rest of the afternoon passed with guitar and a book. We tried to make tea once night fell but I think our tea bags have lost it since it wasn't strong at all. We added Milo and had Milo-tea instead. We both did some more reading to finish the night off.
Area behind the campground

Coast of Forster

A Dolphin!

June 9 – Port Macquarie
We had a slow lazy start to the day since we didn't have a check out time and it was gorgeous out. We contemplated stay there another night but decided around noon that we should move on. We hit the road and headed for Port Macquarie. Along the way we stopped into the town of Bonny Hill were there was a lovely beach. We took a leisurely stroll along and enjoyed the surf, sun and sand for a little bit before hopping back in Dotti. Once into Port Macquarie we stopped at a sea side bbq to make lunch. We had left overs from last night still so we made roganjosh quesidilas. Again another awesome lunch. We are onto something with the wraps. We headed to downtown PM and popped into the visitors center we used their internet and got a little info on the area. We had a stroll along the waterfront and contemplated doing on a sunset cruise. Unfortunately it was cooling off and I didn't have my sweater on me; the cruise was about to leave too. We popped into Coles for some fish and few other odds and ends. We found our campground for the night which was a little run down but okay. We made some delicious fish curry for dinner. There was a tv and sitting area in the kitchen so Beau watched the Departed and I unsuccessfully tried to go to bed early. My colds got me down pretty good and it was a freaking chilly night!
Bonny Hill Beach

Our lunch view

June 10 – South West Rocks
We had bought some eggs and bacon while grocery shopping yesterday with plans to make eggs benny but we hadn't been able to get our hands on any crumpets or english muffins. Instead we made breakfast wraps. They were delicious! We had showers so we were nice and clean when we hit the road. Our destination was South West Rocks. We arrived in the area and went to check out the Smoky Cape Lighthouse. It was a really awesome view of the surrounding coast line. In the distance we were also able to see some whales. Our next stop was Trial Bay which had an old gaol or jail. It was built to house convicts who were supposed to be building a breakwall. The breakwall was never finished since it was taking too long and the ships were built better so it was unnecessary. We decided against going into the Gaol since we didn't want to pay the admission fee. We had a little walk around the park area and out by the breakwall. We headed into the main town and checked out the little info center. We didn't get much help there but we did see some brochures on diving in the area. We took a walk along the water front and saw a pod of dolphins just off shore. We watched the dolphins for a bit then headed up the road to find out about diving. At the dive place they told us about the dive in the area which is a shark cave dive. Apparently the best cave dive in Australia and one of the top 50 in the world. Unfortunately the weather over the next few days is supposed to be crap so we wouldn't be able to go. It sounded supper cool though. You would get dropped in the water with a bunch of nurse sharks then go up through a tunnel and into the cave and follow it out to the other side. After the dive shop we picked up some english muffins and gas then found our home for the night. We put some laundry on then went for a little walk along the river. We headed back to the van, I put the laundry in the drier while Beau made up some guac for lunch. While we ate it started to rain booo. When we had checked in we had seen a poster for the local movie theatre and the Avengers was playing tonight. We decided we'd go see it since we were both interested in it and it was be a very rainy evening. We headed to the local community center which doubles as the movie theater. We had to drive down to the theatre since it was too rainy to walk. The theatre had some movie style seats as well as some folding chairs but they were equipped for 3-D. We really enjoyed the Avengers it was a good action packed entertainer. After the movie we headed back to the campground and read for a little before bed.
The view from Smokey Cape Lighthouse

Trial Bay


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Central Coast and Hunter Valley

June 4 – Central Coast
We awoke to sunny day for our exit from Sydney. Pretty typical that the weather on the weekend is the pits but Monday is gorgeous. We navigated our way out of the city without trouble and headed down the highway to the Central Coast. Our first stop was into the Kariong info center which is the gateway to the Central Coast. We stopped in the city of Gosford for some gas and groceries before continuing on the Terrigal. In Terrigal we found some waterfront bbq's and grilled up some yummy chicken wraps. We then had a walk up to the look out where in the distance you could see some whales. They were too far away for the camera to get a picture but we kept seeing bursts of spray. We had a little walk around the reserve before hopping in the van and heading up to The Entrance. We arrived in time for the daily Pelican feeding. I'm not entirely sure why they do the feeding whether it's for conservation or a tourist gimmick. It does however allow them to keep an eye out for injured Pelicans. The feeders noticed one in particular had what looked like stitches in his lower beak and it looked very inflamed. They couldn't get him in close enough to see what it was or to grab him so they could help. It quickly became apparent that it was a type of fishing hook when the poor pelican got hooked onto another one. The one pelican tried to fly away and dislodge the injured one but was unable to. Two of the women doing the feeding jumped into the frigid water to untangle the two birds. They got them untangled and the uninjured one flew off. They got a hold of the injured bird and brought him back to shore. Turns out it was a gang hook and had pierced his pouch in several places. They were going to take him to a vet to have it removed and get him some antibiotics. After all the excitement Beau and I took a walk along the waterfront and then back into to town to look for a new watch for me (mine fell off yesterday) and a bank machine. We didn't have any luck on either front so we headed to a holiday park just up the road at Canton Beach. There we made stir fry for dinner and had a cuppa of Milo.
Terrigal Beach, where we had lunch
The Lookout
Overlooking the coast to the south of Terrigal
Pelican Feeding

Poor mister pelican

Awesome Moon Rise, turns out there was a partial eclipse that night
June 5 – Hunter Valley
It was windy when we woke up but we had a little change of pace and enjoyed some crumpets for breaky. We decided to head inland to the Hunter Valley since the day was a bit gloomy and there is nothing like some wine tasting to brighten it up. We went out on a limb and stopped into one of the first wineries we saw, Ernest Hill Wines. They charged a small tasting fee but we enjoyed a chat to the owner while having a taste of their wines. She gave us some tips on other wineries to check out while we were there. Next we popped into the visitors center where we got a good map of the region and were assisted but a very unenthusiastic girl. Back in the van we made some guacamole for lunch to have with some yummy tortilla chips. Our next stop was Peterson House which was once called the Champagne House but since you aren't allowed to call sparkling wine Champagne unless its from the region in France they had to change the name. Obviously they specialized in bubbly which Beau and I haven't really drank much of before. We tried a couple of red sparkling wines and while they weren't bad it was just strange to have a chilled, bubbly red wine. Our host was actually a Canadian woman from Victoria who had also lived in K-town for about 10 years. Small world ehh. On site there was also Hunter Valley Chocolate Co. They had all sorts of delicious looking chocolates but they cost way more than I would ever spend. There were a couple of samples but they were just boring dark, white and milk chocolate. For our next stop we drove across the street to Hungerford Hill Wines. There we had a lovely tasting. Fortified wines are very popular in Australia and Beau is acquiring quite a taste for them. As birthday treat we bought a Liqueur Muscat but obviously he has to wait a couple days before he gets any. The winery had free Wifi so we had a quick check of our e-mail and while we there we also got the down low on a brewery tour. We still had an hour before the tour so we jumped up the road to Ballaboureen Wine Co. We had a nice tasting there as well. On site is also an outlet for Pukara Estate which is an Olive Oil and Vinegar company. We tasted all sorts of flavour olive oils including a yummy garlic one and hot chilli one. We passed on the vinegars though as it was getting close to beer time. We headed down to the Hunter Beer Company and got a tour of their small yet successful operation. We also got to try three different beers a kolsch, a whit and a third. I tried an India brown ale while Beau tried the Bock. They also had some interesting types like Sour Cherry and a wine beer which was almost like a fortified beer. We had been chatting with a couple of girls from Sydney through out the tour so we joined them at the bar for another beer. I tried a Ginger Beer which I really liked and Beau had the Coco Mama, it was like a stout. We talked with the girls about our travels and then we all decided we were hungry so we got some pizza. It was pouring down rain outside and then it hit me... we left the roof vent open in van...doh!! Beau ran out and closed it and had to mop up a bunch of water. Fortunately nothing was damaged just wet. We talked with the girls till about 9 and then went our separate ways. We did however get their contact info in case we come back to Sydney. We drove out to the village of Broke along a bumpy wet road to a free campsite. Luckily when we arrived the rain had stopped and the trees around sheltered us from the wind.

June 6 – Hunter Valley to Port Stephens
Last night was supposed to be an awful storm but I think we got luck and the bulk of it missed us. After some breakfast and guitar we headed over the the BlueTongue Brewery in hopes of a tour or tasting. We were disappointed on both fronts though as the beer is no longer made on site and the tasting was a little steep. We popped across the street to the Binnorie Dairy and had a little cheese tasting of some locally made cheeses. There was also Tuscany Wine Estate so we decided to check out their selection. I thought their wines were underwhelming and at first I thought it could be because I'm getting a cold but Beau had the same thought too. The lady who helped us was also not very helpful and any time I asked a question it was answered with well it depends on your taste. Our next stop was Mistletoe Winery which had been suggested to us on several occasions. They had some very nice wines including the only white fortified wine in the valley. As a part of their wine shop they had paintings and sculptures from local artists for sale on display. It is nice to see locals helping locals. We continued on the Tintilla Estate Wines and Olive Grove. We got to try some different types of olives as well as a yummy olive and wine spread. I really wanted to get a jar of the spread but at $16 a jar it was a little out of our normal grocery budget. They also had some nice wines to taste. We headed out of the Hunter Valley and into the town of Maitland. We got some gas and then made naughty chicken wraps for lunch. They were naughty because we bought McD's chicken bites and some fries and put them in wraps with tomato and avocado, the chicken not the fries. We went into the library in town for a little bit and Beau got his site updated. It had been raining on and off all day and was starting to rain more on than off. We hit the road to Port Stephens and Jimmy's Beach Caravan Park. We arrived at the park about 5:20 and the office was already closed. The guy answered the door though, gave us a bathroom key and said see me in the morning to pay. Okay, very trusting guy. It was raining quite heavily but there was a break in the rain for a little bit so we were able to heat up some canned stew in that time. It continued raining on and off all night and was quite windy.