Exploring the ranges

You could quite easily spend a few weeks exploring the Flinders Ranges and surrounding areas, particularly if you are going to do any of the bushwalks.

Below are just a few of the places we visited while in the area.

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The Great Wall of China

Just outside the Flinders Ranges on the road between Wilpena and Blinman you’ll find the unusual formation which is named the Great Wall of China.  This is made up of lines of rocks which are topped with ironstone.

Blinman

The historic town of Blinman is actually the highest town in South Australia.  Copper was discovered here in 1859 and mining began soon afterwards.  What was once a popular busy town in the mining boom is now a quiet little town home to just 22 residents.

The Blinman Hotel, known as ‘The Pub in the Scrub’, first opened in 1869.

Sacred Canyon

The site is a place where the Adnyamanthanha people gathered to tell stories.  It’s believed that the engravings are up to 40 thousand years old.

It’s quite an easy and picturesque walk into the canyon along a dry river bed, lined with ancient river red gums.  What makes this place different to other Aboriginal artworks is that they are actually engravings carved into the rocks, not paintings.

It is unknown who actually made these artworks as the memory of these people has been lost to the local Adnyamanthanha community.

Nuccaleena Mine Ruins

Copper was discovered at Nuccaleena by William Finke in the mid 1850’s.  The mine became partly operational in early 1860 when 100 tons of copper ore were mined in 5 weeks by 16 men.  By March 1861, 88 men were working at Nuccaleena, including six miners, five masons, four sawyers, two cooks and a medical officer.

The Great Northern Mining Company built a small town around the mine site, where the miners and mechanics of the company resided. Of course, the township also had the Bushman’s Hotel, as well as Captains apartments, office, stone stables, a goods store, smith’s shop, a workshop, general store, doctor’s house and huts for the miners.

You can walk around this old mine site and we would have loved to have done so, but it was unbelievably hot the day we were there and walking from the car to the information sign and taking the photos below nearly killed me (George stayed in the comfort of the air-conditioned car!)

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Kanyaka Homestead Ruins

We both love exploring old ruins, learning the history and imagining what these places must have been like …. filled with people and chatter.  Walking around some of these ruins we come across, you are the only ones there and it’s hard to imagine what life must had been like.

The Kanyaka ruins consists of various buildings, the main homestead and various other outbuildings.   There is also the woolshed, which was one of the largest in the state.

This was our second visit to these ruins and this time we also noticed that there is a small cemetery across the creek bed …. we all know Shelly loves a cemetery and had it not been over 43 degrees she would have taken the walk over to check it out!

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Old Moxans’ Hut

You will find this hut on the SkyTrek Track on Willow Spring Station property.  Old Moxans’ Hut was built around the turn of the century and was actually occupied permanently by a station employee until the early 1960’s.

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Prairie Hotel

Located at Parachilna, the Prairie Hotel is one of those places that everyone wants to visit, why?  To try their ‘FMG’ – Feral Mixed Grill ….. a dish consisting of kangaroo, camel and emu.  Apparently this is listed as one of the top 100 Gourmet experiences in Australia!  We would have liked to try this (well George would have), but the hotel was closed for the summer so we will have to visit next time, but we did take a drive out to the town anyway.

The Parachilna Hotel was first licensed in 1876 and changed its name to the Prairie Hotel when Ross and Jane Fargher purchased the hotel in 1991.

Now Parachilna is one of those blink and you’ll miss it type of places …. it’s literally nothing more than a railway station, the hotel and a few other buildings.  It’s a strange little place, there was no one around (that we could see!) and to be honest it felt pretty eerie.  Would we stay there ….. NO, would we go back when the pub is open …. Probably, did we feel like someone was going to jump out and kidnap us and chop us up into a million pieces …. YES!

Friendly locals!

This friendly little guy was a constant visitor at our campsite during our stay.  He was very inquisitive and was never far away.  We are always very careful about not leaving food or rubbish around while we are camping, but we did come back one day and find the grease tray from our Webber lying on the floor ….. we have a feeling maybe this little guy had something to do with that!

Plenty of 4WD Tracks

As previously posted, there are plenty of 4WD tracks available and the Flinders Ranges are centrally located should you wish to extended your holiday into another area …. there was a part of us that wanted to jump on the Strzelecki Track and head off to Innamincka for another visit ….. the hotel sells awesome chips!

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Wilpena Pound Welcome Talk

One of the highlights of the trip was attending the welcome talk at the resort.  Each night they hold a free informal talk where you are welcomed to the area in Yura Ngawarla, the language of the Adnyamathanha people, the traditional owners of Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges area.  The talk included the welcome, as well as stories and beliefs of the Adnyamathanha people as to the creation of the pound and surrounding areas.  To hear of stories passed down from generation to generation and to feel their passion and spiritual connection is something we love to be a part of.  To visit places like this and see that many of the staff are of Aboriginal background makes it just feel right.  We love hearing the Dreamtime stories, knowing that they have carried these beliefs down the generations, it’s a privilege to be a part of that.  If you are visiting the Wilpena Pound Resort, this welcome talk is a must-do activity.

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We basically spent 5 days driving around and exploring.  We generally left camp by 8am and we were lucky to be back before 7pm most days.  During our whole trip we drove 5,136km.  Above is a screenshot of our hema map app of where we drove in the Flinders Ranges.


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Flinders Ranges 4×4 Tracks

We had been told that not only was the scenery spectacular, but there were some great 4X4 tracks to be found in the Flinders Ranges.  One of the perks of knowing the owner of a 4WD tour company is that we always find out the best of the best places to visit on our travels!  After getting the run down of where to visit we set off to explore a few of the tracks.  The first was the Arkapena Track which is a track made up of two sections, an AWD section and a 4WD only section.

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Arkapena Track

This self-guided four-wheel-drive track is on private property and it cost us $50 to drive it. Payment is made and key is picked up from Rawnsley Park Station. You are also provided with a map and information on the area you were driving, as well as directions to the starting point.

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The first section, which takes about 3 or so hours to drive is an all wheel drive track which, although not challenging, we enjoyed it as it offered some great scenery. In saying that though, if you were in an AWD vehicle (not a big tough Prado 😂) or you weren’t experienced, you’d certainly find this first section very enjoyable!

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The second part of this track is a 4WD only track and this section took us about an hour or so to complete.

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⛺️Rawnsley Park Station offer onsite camping and park cabins.  Contact details are:-

Telephone (08) 8648 0700    http://www.rawnsleypark.com.au


SkyTrek

New Years Day saw us head off on another 4WD track, this time the SkyTrek which is located on Willow Springs Station.

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This track is for vehicles with low range 4WD and experienced 4WDers only. As with the other track there is a charge which was $70.  We were given a map, a key and information guide before we set off.  There are 50 markers on the route and the information booklet takes you through what all of these points of interest are.

Note that this track takes around six hours to complete and you cannot start this track any later than 10:30 am. Willow Springs is a working sheep station and the Reynolds family have been managing and grazing on this land for over 85 years.

⛺️ Willow Springs offer onsite camping as well as various cottages.  Contact details are:-

Telephone (08) 8648 0016    http://www.skytrekwillowsprings.com.au


Many of the tracks in the area run through private property so always make sure you are actually allowed to be there!  Not all people let you drive on their property.  After you are sure you can actually be there ….

🔹stay to formed tracks

🔹leave gates as you find them

🔹take all rubbish with you

🔹watch for wildlife and/or stock

🔹call ahead if you would like to drive a track or call into the homestead and say hi if you are driving past, after all this is someone’s backyard you are driving through!


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Who visits the Flinders Ranges in summer …. we do!

We left the tranquil stunning waters of Coffin Bay and the SA coastline and made our way inland to the rugged ancient rock formations that make up the hot and dry Flinders Ranges.

The Flinders Ranges in South Australia are amazing and best visited in the cooler months of the year, but we were prepared for the heat and decided to go anyway! Yes it was hot, but it wasn’t too bad at all, the heat is a dry heat, totally different to the humidity we get in Sydney.

We spent our time camping in the Wilpena Pound Resort, which is the only accommodation located within the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park. This resort offers motel style rooms, luxury safari tent accommodation and powered and unpowered sites. We stayed on a powered site and it was huge, plenty of space to spread out and still be away from your neighbours!

The Flinders Ranges is known for its stunning scenery, ancient landscapes and great 4×4 tracks. The landscape is up to 800 million years old and has been home to Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years.

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Day 1 we decided to explore the popular tourist drives including Bunyeroo Valley and Brachina Gorge.

The Brachina Gorge and Bunyeroo Valley tracks are not a difficult drive by any means but they are by far one of the most scenic drives in the Flinders Ranges.

From a geological perspective, this whole area is something really special. To be honest, neither of us really get into the geology side too much, but when you realise you are driving through ranges and valleys with hundreds of millions of years worth of history you can’t help but feel something. We don’t understand it all, but just being there you get a feeling that you are somewhere special.

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The Bunyeroo formation consists of soft shale and siltstone which eroded away to form low valleys. It was formed about 580 million years ago when a rapid rise in the sea level flooded the whole area and resulted in deposition of the clay and silt. To know you are driving through an area that was once the bottom of an ocean is quite something.

If time is something you don’t have much of during your visit to the Flinders Ranges then these are your must do tracks. It gives a great introduction into the history and landscape of the area and the scenery is truly amazing. At every turn and every crest you come to you will be amazed at the views.


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Coffin Bay National Park

Coffin Bay was a place we had definitely wanted to visit, all the photos you see are stunning. We managed to incorporate a 2 night stay here on this trip and so glad we did. Would have loved to have more time to explore a little more of the coastline, but there is always next time!

After a long drive from Mildura to Coffin Bay …. with the temperature slowly rising the further we travelled (48 degrees when we stopped in Port Augusta for fuel!) we were wondering what we were in for!

Luckily the temperature at Coffin Bay was much more bearable … in fact it was quite cool at times.  We camped overlooking Yangie Bay which was great.  The local kangaroos visited and grazed right in front of our camp.  Driving around the park you’ll see plenty of kangaroos and emus.

We spent the day exploring the whole national park and it was absolutely beautiful.  Such a stunning area, the colour of the water is something you need to see to believe.  If you have been to Western Australia, it’s very similar to the waters around the Coral Bay area of WA.

 


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2018: Our Year in Review

What another busy year that was and time just flew by didn’t it. This year was a year of trying to get out more, more 4WDing days, more weekends away and more quality time with family and friends.

We started 2018 surrounded by friends at the Urunga Waters Caravan Park. This was a really fun week away with a great group friends …. and a few others who popped in at random times throughout the week! Even the rain and mud around camp didn’t dampen our spirits!

Fast forward 12 months and as we write this we are sitting at camp in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Anyone who’s been following our blog or photos on social media will have seen that we spent an amazing 2 days camped in the Coffin Bay National Park, WOW, words can’t explain how spectacular this place is! We then moved a little further north to the Flinders Ranges where we are camped in Wilpena Pound and spending time exploring this marvelous area. We have visited before, but never for an extended period and we are absolutely loving it.

Thank you to all of our family, friends and followers for their support over the past year.  Thanks for following our adventures and interacting with us, we even personally met some of our followers this year which was great and we also gained a few new camping friends! If anyone sees us out and about make sure you come over and say hi, we love meeting new people and sharing stories.

Now let’s take a look back on the year that was 2018 …..


2018 Trips

January

We spent a week with friends in Urunga, camping at the Urunga Waters Caravan Park. This is a great little park right on the water. It’s an older style park, but it has everything we need, it’s quiet and it’s conveniently located. Urunga is just outside of Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid north coast, it’s great for 4WDing, beaches and of course all the tourist activities, most famously the Big Banana!

January also saw us head away for the Australia Day long weekend. We camped at Percy’s Place in Pitt Town, a whole 29km from home! This place is great and you certainly didn’t feel like you were that close to home. Situated right on the banks of the Hawkesbury River it was the perfect setting for a hot long weekend …. We spent a lot of time in that river! This was also the first trip we decided to take Gelly and Charli away camping with us. We won’t dwell on the fact that our dogs are naughty, but let’s just say they didn’t last too long and luckily we were close to home as they were both taken home midway through the second day! In the time that they were there though they loved it and Gelly spent a lot of her time in the river too!

February

Our 5 year wedding anniversary was celebrated by 5 day trip to Tasmania. It was the first visit to Tasmania for both of us. Did we enjoy it? YES it was amazing and we can’t wait to go back there again, hopefully next time with the 4WD and camper trailer for a much longer visit.

We visited Hobart, Mount Wellington, Port Arthur, Bicheno, Launceston and the famous Salamanca Markets.  We had a private encounter with a baby Tasmanian devil at Cradle Mountain (so adorable) and we learned all about seahorses, platypus and echidnas at Seahorse World and Platypus House.  We visited the Beaconsfield Mine where tragedy struck in 2006 and we explored the beautiful historic Richmond, which is home to the oldest bridge in Australia.   Tasmania is so full of history and we learned a lot and saw some beautiful areas.

We certainly managed to pack a lot into a short period of time as you’ll see from the map below.

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We even detoured so that we could visit ‘Georgetown’!

July

This was our big trip of the year, it was when we made the trek back up to Cape York, the tip of Australia. We’d first completed this trip in 2013 as part of our 2 month honeymoon, but we had friends who wanted to go so we agreed to lead a trip. We had 6 vehicles and 15 people and we all had an absolute ball. I think it gave some of our friends an appreciation and understanding of why we love what we do. It was their first real remote trip and it was great to be able to share it with them all. Not only did we visit the Northern Most Point of mainland Australia, we had a beer in the northern most pub on the mainland, we swam under waterfalls, we saw crocodiles, we played with a dingo (he was very friendly!) and we had plenty of laughs and memorable moments.

October

2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the Cub Campers brand and to celebrate Cub Campers invited all Cub owners to a 50th Anniversary Jamboree held at Del Rio Riverside Resort at Wisemans Ferry. We didn’t know anyone who was going, but thought it would be a good long weekend away so ‘why not’. As it turned out, we had a great weekend and met some people who we will definitely keep in touch with and catch up with again …. In fact we’ve since been camping with one of the families again already! Cub put on a great weekend with goodie bags, talks and activities, a gala dinner and drinks and a BBQ breakfast on the last morning.

The whole Cub family was there, along with some of the employees from their North Rocks factory.  it was great to meet and have a chat with Roger Fagan, the founder of Cub Campers, and hear his stories of how it all began and the obstacles that have stood in their way over the years.

November

We met a family at the Cub Campers jamboree and arranged to catch up again and go camping, so this saw us head up to Soldiers Point for a weekend.  We all had a lot of fun with plenty of drinks and plenty of laughs. The others in the group were great as well and I think everyone had a good weekend.

December

Shelly had wanted to go to the Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Light Spectacular for years and finally George gave in! We made a weekend of it and camped in the Hunter Valley and spent Saturday visiting the various wineries, cheese and chocolate shops and Shelly’s favourite, Pukara Estate.  We even tried Bacon Beer at one of the breweries!  Later that night we were meant to meet up with friends to visit the lights, but as it turned out a storm came through and they closed the gardens and cancelled the lights 😦  So unfortunately we didn’t get to see the lights, but we did have a good weekend and spent way to much money!  We will now revisit in January to see the lights, with hopefully better weather next time.


Filming for ‘Cub Stories’.

In last year’s ‘Year In Review’ we mentioned that we had been approached by Cub Campers to see if we’d like to be part of their ‘Cub Stories’ web series.  We were already heading away to Percy’s Place at Pitt Town for a long weekend camping trip with some friends over Australia Day so we arranged to meet up with Fiona from Cub Campers to film our story.

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We met Fiona at Percy’s Place early and she filmed us driving in, setting up the camper and then she interviewed us both as well. The day was so incredibly hot, we had our friends heckling from the sidelines and we had two whingeing dogs to deal with, but it was a lot of fun. We really weren’t sure what to expect, but Fiona made everything so easy and fun and we were both happy with the end result, so it was all worthwhile! Click here to check it out.


Celebrations

Little Levi turned 2 in March and we had a lunch with family and friend’s at his house. It’s been great watching Levi grow from a baby into a little boy. It’s been a big year for him, he is starting to talk a lot more, he’s started soccer, he’s changed day care centres and he got his first bike.

In April we attended the wedding of Shelly’s cousin, Mel and her husband, Matt. This was a beautiful day, with the ceremony also incorporating a christening for their daughter Chloe. The reception was held in Cockle Bay so we treated ourselves to a night away at the Hyatt Regency.

The next morning to celebrate our brother in laws birthday we went to the fish markets for a seafood breakfast …. seemed fairly strange at first but this place is packed early in the morning and apparently a seafood platter at 9am is perfectly acceptable!

October 31st was not only Halloween, but it was also the 21st birthday of George’s son, Tre. They certainly aren’t kids anymore, Tre is 21 and Min is 23!

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October was also a big month for Shelly’s dad, Johnny, as he turned the big 80. We celebrated at our local tavern with a lunch for all the family and friends and it was a great day catching up with everyone.


The 4WD’s & Camper Trailer

We are always spending money on these vehicles, they are money pits!

90 Series Prado

Something Shelly has wanted for a long time was a black bull bar on the old Prado. Last year we purchased some Raptor paint with the intention of painting the bar on the 150 ….. As it turned out we just bought all new bar work for that Prado instead! So while we were off on holidays at Cape York, the old Prado took a holiday with our mechanic. We came back to a new windscreen and pretty black bullbar and side steps and we absolutely love it, it changes the whole look of the 4WD.

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During the year, one night while parked out the front of our house, our aerial and base got stolen off the Prado.  This was Shelly’s chance to get the pink aerial she’s been wanting!  She has gradually been adding her little touches of ‘pink’ to this 4WD and below are the latest!  George said he’s never driving this 4WD again!

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After painting the bar, the old rusty standard steel rims needed to go, so we got some new black wheels to fit with the theme ….. a set of 16×8 Sunraysia steel wheels from Dynamic Wheel Co.

150 Series Prado

The 150 Series Prado was also given new wheels and tyres – 17×9 Mickey Thompson Deegan Pro 2 wrapped in Dick Cepek Extreme Country 265/70×17.

These were tested out on our trip to Cape York and we were very happy with them.  One of our other vehicles also fitted them before leaving and they too were happy, these are an extremely good offroad tyre.

Like the old Prado, this one also got a new windscreen (installed the day before leaving for Cape York …. nothing like being prepared!).  An unexpected expense during our Cape York trip was a new Starter Motor, a detour back to Townsville and this was sorted quickly, (thanks Alect Auto Electrical) and later in the year a new alternator.  Boy these vehicles are expensive!

Both vehicles also got their new Off The Track stickers.

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Jobs

Last year we mentioned that George had left Bridgestone and started a new job …. Well as it turns out that wasn’t the job for George and he soon left and picked up his new job which he absolutely loves.  He’s now an Account Manager with Dynamic Wheel Co, covering NSW and ACT. This is the absolute perfect job for George as he is specializing in alloy and steel wheels predominantly for the 4WD market, could you get a more perfect job for a guy like George!.

Shelly is still at Capital Results, there have been a few changes over time but it’s basically been over 20 years in this job now!  She’s also still running her Scentsy business, Awaken The Scent. If you’re interested, we can deliver Australia-wide so check out the website and see if you’d like to order anything. Our whole house is filled with Scentsy products and aromas, even George is a huge Scentsy lover!


George’s outback trip

Now, it’s no wonder George loves his new job so much, September saw him head off with 5 of his workmates on a mini outback trip, disguised as a ‘sales conference’! George flew to Brisbane and met up with the others, loaded themselves into two vehicles and hit the road, first stop Thargomindah. Over the next few days they visited Innamincka, Burke’s grave, Cameron’s Corner and Tibooburra, before finally finishing up in Broken Hill.


Jungle surfing

After our Cape York trip we spent an extra day in Cape Tribulation so that we could go Jungle Surfing!   What a great experience this was to fly through the Daintree Rainforest on zip lines.  The platforms are up to 16 meters high and you can reach speeds of up to 45km/hour as you fly through the trees  ….. we even flew upside down on one of the sections!  The views were amazing, looking over the jungle canopy and across the Great Barrier Reef, such a fun way to spend a morning.


Paronella Park

Jose Paronella was a man who had a dream, a man who worked hard to make that dream become a reality and what an amazing story this is.  In 1929 Jose purchased 13 acres of scrub along Mena Creek and set about creating this special place.  Jose lived here with his family, but also opened it up to the public so that they could all enjoy the spectacular place aswell.  Jose built the whole park by hand, including hand planting over 7000 trees.  This was also home to a Hydro Electric generating plant which supplied power to the whole park, the earliest in North Queensland.

This had been on our list of places to visit and we can highly recommend it.  The entry price includes overnight camping fees so you can explore at your leisure.  Once we arrived Shelly set off on foot to explore the area and take some photographs while George set up camp!  Later that night we went on one of their guided tours (also included in the entry price) and learned a little more about the history of Paronella Park.  The current owners of the park even came out to speak with the group after the walk and explained a little about the history and their experiences and involvement since purchasing the park.  This is one really well run tourist attraction and you can see why they win so many awards.  This one should definitely be on your list of places to visit.


Pergola

After years of having the ugly triple car port in the yard we finally installed a new pergola earlier this year and we love it ….. now to just work on the rest of the yard!  Anyone got any ideas on how to have a nice backyard AND an American Staffy ……. our house would look amazing if we didn’t own Charli!  In case you are wondering why the camper trailer is hidden behind temporary fencing …. ask Charli!


RIP Bob

Shelly’s little cockatiel Bob died earlier this year.  Bob was nearly 18 years old and although Shelly has always had birds and aviaries, Bob was always the favourite.  Even Shelly’s sister loved Bob and she’s scared of birds!  Bob lived in 3 separate houses with Shelly over the course of his life and he was always a big part of the family.

Bob lived in our kitchen and often came out to play.   He was a strange little bird who much preferred to walk than fly and he absolutely loved rice bubbles, they were his favourite!  I remember one time when we were living in a rental property we arrived home to find the cage open and Bob gone, we walked around the house calling his name and followed the slight chirps we heard – we eventually found him at the other end of the house in the bedroom, hiding behind a set of drawers shaking!


How we spent Christmas 

Christmas Eve we had lunch at our house for Shelly’s side of the family. A big lunch, lots of presents, a few drinks and all your family, what better way to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas Day we headed to George’s sisters house to celebrate with George’s side of the family.  Again, plenty of presents and food and great company.


What’s planned for 2019?

Our big plans for 2019 are to visit the Big Red Bash!  Finally we are going! ….. Shelly’s been pestering George to do this since it first started! Another one of our bucket list items is going to be ticked off.  This 3 day concert is the most remote concert in the world, taking place outdoors in the Simpson Desert, just out from Birdsville at ‘Big Red’, the highest sand dune in the Simpson Desert.  We have the tickets and we are going!  Headline artists for next year are MIDNIGHT OIL, THE LIVING END and KASEY CHAMBERS, with many others including Richard Clapton, 1927, Wendy Matthews, Chocolate Starfish and The Chantoozies.  If anyone wants to join us on this trip, let us know!

Other than that, we will be taking a few weekend or short trips again and plan on spending a lot more time out 4WDing and exploring.


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As we look back and reflect on this past year, we are thankful for the love and friendship of our family and friends. We have had quite a few of you go through some hard times this year and it makes you realise more than ever that we only have one life and you need to make the most of that.  Do what makes you happy, enjoy every day like it’s your last. Cherish the moments you share with others, make memories wherever you go and live a life with no regrets. You are only given one chance at life so make sure it’s a great one 💕

Wishing you all a very happy, safe and adventure filled 2019. Get out there and experience some of the magical places that surround you. Bring on 2019!


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Holiday time!

Boxing Day saw us have an early 4am start for our drive to South Australia. Definitely glad we weren’t heading north …. we had no traffic at all in our direction!

We drove just over 1,000km and arrived in Mildura in Victoria where we decided to spend the night. After an early start, a big days driving and the 44 degree temperatures we decided to check into a hotel and make the most of some air conditioning! It was still over 40 degrees at 7pm!

The next morning we left around 7am for our drive to our first destination, Coffin Bay in South Australia. After passing through the quarantine inspection station (which we forgot about!) and saying goodbye to our tomatoes 🍅 we headed to Renmark for coffee and breakfast.

It was another big day of driving and we arrived at Coffin Bay in the late afternoon and headed out to the national park to set up camp …. and what a great campsite we had overlooking Yangie Bay.


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Tackling the Tele – Cape Tribulation

The official last night of our Cape York trip was a stay at Cape Tribulation.  This is an absolutely beautiful part of Australia, one we have actually visited quite a few times, but have never really taken too much time to explore.

On this stay we chose to spend 2 nights here as Shelly wanted to go Jungle Surfing …. more on this in another blog post!

We stayed in the Cape Tribulation Camping ground (well some of us did, long story!) and will definitely stay here again.  We camped right behind the beach, a walk down our sandy pathway through the palm trees and you are on this stunning beach.

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Our campsites were nestled in behind these palm trees.  Camp fires were allowed on the beach and there were plenty of families set up with dinner and a little campfire, such a perfect spot for it.

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Ash & Tas swinging from the vines!

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Words really can’t explain how beautiful and peaceful it was to watch the sunset out here.  The water was so still, it was like glass.

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Cape Tribulation is this special area where the rainforest meets the reef. To basically walk straight from the rainforest onto the beach is pretty amazing. This area of the Daintree National Park is really an area to be explored.

You’ll find Cape Tribulation about 35 km north of the Daintree River and this is where the bitumen ends and the dirt roads start (Bloomfield Track). In fact, the road to Cape Tribulation was only put through in 1962.

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The name Cape Tribulation can be traced back to Lieutenant James Cook. As Cook was trying to navigate his way through this area his ship ran into Endeavour Reef, north-northeast of Cape Tribulation. He wrote: “I name this point Cape Tribulation, because here began all my troubles.”

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As the area sits right on the fringing reef of the Great Barrier Reef, at low tide you could see quite a bit of coral washed up on the beach.

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After pizza and a few drinks in the restaurant we all retired back to our campsite for the night.

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We couldn’t have asked for a better end to our second Cape York trip.


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Tackling the Tele – CREB track

From the Lions Den Hotel four of our vehicles headed off for a day on the CREB Track.  Our other two vehicles opted for the easier, but equally scenic drive along the Bloomfield Track.

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The CREB track was originally constructed as a maintenance track by the Cairns Regional Electricity Board (CREB) to service their power lines.  Now it’s a 4WD playground!

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Not only will the track test your 4WD and your driving ability, but the scenery is absolutely stunning.  For a visually appealing 4WD track, you will find it hard to beat this one.

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Looks like a perfect place for a lunch stop …… and the unfortunate disintegrating butterfly event (drones and butterflies don’t go well together!)

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The whole CREB Track is only about 70km or so in length and basically runs from the Daintree Village to the Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal.   Assuming you have no issues on the track, you can easily drive this in a few hours …. although there are places to camp should you wish to spend longer.

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This track can be one of the scariest drives you’ll do.  The track can change in difficulty significantly, the slightest bit of rain and this can change from a scenic drive to a very scary, dangerous drive.  Hence why the track is quite often closed.  The CREB is very narrow and steep in places and has numerous creek crossings and the clay base means that once the slightest bit of rain falls, the surface offers absolutely no grip at all.

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We first drove this track back in 2013 and it was a slightly overcast day and we did get a few spots of rain which added to our apprehension.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect of the track as it was, so rain wasn’t something we were excited about!  We were definitely able to see why they close this track in the wet.

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The track passes through World Heritage rainforest and eucalypt woodlands and the views are spectacular.  It really is a rewarding drive, both for 4WDing and visually.

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The longest and deepest water crossing on the CREB Track is the Daintree River.   It’s not a hard crossing and the base is fairly solid, but it’s always fun!

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Tackling the Tele – Lions Den Hotel

For many years the Lions Den Hotel has played an important role as the last stop before Cooktown and the rugged Black Mountain pass.  Nowadays this iconic little pub is on everyone’s bucket list.  Everyone wants to get a photo out the front with ‘Leo the lion’!  If you don’t know how popular Leo is, check out this story to read about when someone stole Leo’s tail!

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The historic Lions Den Hotel has been an important stop for tourists and locals for decades.  After a gruelling few weeks of rugged dirt roads, dust and corrugations as you travel throughout the Cape York region, this is a welcome relief and stop over point for a well deserved drink.

History

In 1875 a young Welshman from Rossville named Jack Ross decided to open a hotel in an area which later became known as Helenvale.  Right on the banks of the Little Annan River, where it joined the Mungumby Creek, Jack and his wife Annie opened the Lions Den Hotel.   The hotel was named after the Lions Den tin mine on the nearby tableland.

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You should take a bit of time to walk around the inside of this quirky little pub, there is plenty of history and decorations and many signatures and stories from travellers adorn the walls and ceiling of the rooms.  Yes, amongst all those signatures we are there too …. somewhere!

Accommodation
Accommodation options range from powered and unpowered camping sites to on site cabins and Safari Tents.

During our visit in 2013 with Stewy, Kristy and Rori we all stayed in a Safari tent for something a little bit different.  They are fully screened to keep the bugs out and come with private deck areas, as well as fridge and tea & coffee making facilities.

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Facilities

The Lions Den Hotel has everything you need from a licensed bar, meals, fuel, ice, souvenirs etc.  The large deck areas are the perfect place to sit and relax and share some stories over a cold beer or two.

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As we were nearing the end of our epic journey our whole group took the opportunity to share a meal and a few drinks together.  As we relaxed on the deck, we all had a great night filled with lots of laughs, a few drinks and plenty of food.

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Early the next morning we were all up ready to head off for a day on the tracks ….. 4 of our vehicles were tackling the CREB Track.  But before that we had more photos to take  ….. like the standard ‘Leo the Lion’ photos, every has to get a pic of their vehicles in front of the sign out the front!

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Below is our photo from our visit with Stewy in 2013 compared to 2018.   5 years later and new vehicles for both of us!

Contact

The Lions Den Hotel is located 28km south of Cooktown on the Bloomfield Road between Cooktown and Cape Tribulation.

Phone (07) 4060 3911     www.lionsdenhotel.net

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During our visit in 2013 there were the most amazing jade vines that were hanging from the trees around the deck of the hotel.  These delicate little blue, green flowers almost didn’t even look real.  They looked like little claws swaying in the breeze.

We had never seen anything quite like it in our lives, they were stunning.  To find something this beautiful and delicate in such a rustic, relatively remote location was amazing.   We found out that they were called Strongylodon macrobotrys, commonly known as jade vine and they are a native of the tropical forests of the Philippines.

This time we were looking forward to seeing these amazing flowers again, but we were informed that unfortunately they were destroyed in one of the cyclones which hit the area, such a shame.


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Tackling the Tele – Cooktown

Cooktown is one of our most historically significant towns.  In 1770, the British explorer, Captain James Cook and his ship HMS Endeavour, ran into trouble as they hit the Great Barrier Reef and caused significant damage to their vessel.  Captain Cook needed to find safe water to repair his ship so he limped it into the nearest river.  After a lengthy stay onshore to undertake repairs, Captain Cook sailed north to Cape York and through the Torres Strait to Batavia.

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The river in which Cook and his men had been stranded in was named ‘Endeavour River’ and apparently this is the only river in Australia that Cook ever named.

A century after Cook’s landing, Cook’s Town was built and a new community grew to support the many miners and families of the Palmer River gold rush.

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Cooktown is one of those beautiful historic coastal towns that you really need to visit to understand the beauty and history of the area.  We’ve found that people either love or hate Cooktown, for us we love it and have visited numerous times on our travels.  There is so much history, some of the old buildings are amazing and the views are simply spectacular.  Cooktown also happens to be Australia’s closest town to the Great Barrier Reef.

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For our visit to Cooktown this time we decided that everyone would split up and do their own thing for a few hours.  We had been to Cooktown a few times previously so we just went for a walk, did a bit of shopping and grabbed some yummy local seafood to eat down on the water.

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What to do:-

**James Cook Museum – Learn all about the story of Cook’s arrival from the perspective of the Guugu Yimithirr people.  Displays also include the anchor and cannon from the Endeavour.

**Cooktown Cemetery – An interesting place to visit with many historical graves, the oldest identifiable grave is that of Rev Francis Tripp who died on the 20 May 1874 at the age of 46 years.  Other gravesites include that of Elizabeth Jardine (wife of John Jardine – one of our earlier blogs went into detail of the Jardine family), Mary Watson and the Normanby Woman.

**Botanic Gardens – Beautiful gardens and plenty of walking trails.  Free entry.

**Cooktown History Centre – This is housed in the oldest building in Charlotte Street and has everything you need to know about Cooktown’s history.

**Fishing – We are not fisherman, but apparently the surrounding rivers and estuaries are the perfect place to catch a meal!

**Grassy Hill Lookout – This is the place for amazing 360 degree views of Cooktown and surrounds.

**The Milbi Wall – This 12 meter curved wall is placed at the location where Captain James Cook and his crew first set foot on land.  This wall features almost 500 hand painted and carved tiles.

**The Musical Ship – This unique interactive musical playground is fitted with many different instruments to help you make your own music.  This is great fun for the young and old!  

 

Cooktown is actually quite a large town with excellent facilities and this offered a great opportunity for people to stock up on anything they needed.

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A walk along the foreshore is a must, apart from beautiful views there are plenty of monuments and other interesting things to look at.

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After a few hours exploring Cooktown, our meeting place was Grassy Hill Lookout.  This is one of the must visit places to take in the amazing views over the Endeavour River and Cooktown.  Grassy Hill is from where Captain Cook was able to map out a course out through the reefs.

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Although this is an old historic town and it seems quite remote when you are there, today your visit to Cooktown is made even easier with the fully sealed highway running all the way into town.  If you are after a relaxing break with great scenery and plenty of history, this is a great place to base yourself to explore the surrounding areas.

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Just a few dirty 4WD’s sitting in the main street of Cooktown!

 


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