Roadside Membership … what you need to know

We are always asked what insurance we have and what precautions we use when travelling, well let me tell you … we would never travel without our NRMA Roadside Membership. We hear and read a lot about NRMA Roadside Membership and it appears many people don’t fully understand it, so here’s a short comparison of their various covers and what that gives you.

For example, did you know that their base cover “Classic Care” will not cover most 4WD’s or anything they are towing? Did you know that you are covered Australia wide?

Of course this particular comparison relates only to NRMA (which covers NSW/ACT), but every state has their own affiliated motoring organisation and they probably offer similar memberships.

We have both been NRMA members for years and have used our membership numerous times …….
🔧Our old Prado broke down on one of our outback trips and we were towed from the breakdown point to Condobolin, Condobolin to Dubbo, Dubbo to home, home to our mechanic – all covered by NRMA. Would have covered accommodation in Dubbo as well, but we had friends we could stay with.
🔧Shelly’s old GTi wouldn’t start and the NRMA turned up to the train station carpark to check it out, couldn’t be fixed on the spot so was towed to our auto-electrician about 30km away.
🔧Our old Prado ran out of fuel 10km from the end of the M1 freeway (George’s fault!!) NRMA turned up and towed us to the nearest petrol station.
🔧Our old Prado alternator went and was towed to our mechanic.
🔧Back in the day, Shelly may have had numerous call-outs for keys locked in cars!
🔧Our friend used his RACQ membership when he blew his engine on a Cape York trip with us, covered a significant part of the cost involved in accommodation, flights, car transport etc.

As you’ll see, your membership offers a lot more than just ‘roadside assistance if you breakdown’.

We personally wouldn’t be without our membership, it’s come in handy many times over the years and it’s a great ‘peace of mind’ when we are travelling, but it may not be right for everyone.

Note: Please do your own research and speak with NRMA directly before taking out any cover, this is our view on the situation only. All details are accurate at this point in time and are as we understand them.

Advertisements

Maheno Shipwreck

The Maheno shipwreck is one of those must visit places on Fraser Island. You’ll find it on 75 Mile Beach on the eastern side of the island, not far past Eli Creek.

The ship ended up beached on the island during a cyclone in 1935 and has laid there wasting away ever since.

The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1905 and was the world’s first ever triple screw steamer. She was initially built as a luxury passenger ship. During World War 1 she served as a hospital ship treating and transporting the wounded from Gallipoli and the Western Front. She was later used by a shipping company for journeys between Sydney and New Zealand.

By 1935 the ship had been declared outdated and taken out of service and was sold to a scrapping company in Japan.

On 8 July 1935, while under tow to Japan, the Maheno became caught in a cyclone and the towline broke. After drifting in rough seas, the Maheno eventually beached on Fraser Island.

The ship was unable to be re-floated and no buyers wanted her, so she was abandoned on the beach and remains there today.

It is said that the locals put the shipwreck to use in the year or so after it washed ashore by holding weddings and concerts aboard. Years later the wreck was used as bombing practice during World War 2.

She has definitely been showing her age in recent years as the constant battering of waves and the environment take their toll on her. Our photos of the Maheno from our first visit to the island 13 years ago compared to now definitely show the deterioration.

Today, the rusting hull is all that remains and this is gradually being washed away with every tide, wave and storm that hits.

Definitely still one of our favourite places to visit and photograph on the island though.

Christmas Shopping made easy

So our favourite time of year is nearly upon us …. yep that’s right, only 31 days until Christmas! 🎄 🎁

If you are looking for some awesome gifts to buy for your friends and loved ones, check out these products below. We have joined forces with some of our favourite Aussie companies who we personally use and recommend and some have agreed to offer a discount just for our followers. Note that, unless stated otherwise, there is nothing in this for us, it’s purely just to share our love of these products and give a little back to you guys!

Click on the links below to be taken directly to the websites to order. If you want to try and score yourself some of these great products for free, head over to our Facebook page and enter our Christmas giveaway competition as a few of the companies below have kindly donated products! Click here for details on how to enter this great giveaway 👉http://bit.ly/2KcYZm5


Cost Effective Maintenance

Cost Effective Maintenance provide cost effective solutions to all your engine problems, but rather than just a ‘band-aid’ fix, they work to solve your engine problems in two ways ….. 1) Corrective Maintenance and 2) Advanced Preventative Maintenance.

Not only have we been using their products in our vehicles for years, both of our vehicles are also now officially sponsored by Cost Effective Maintenance. We’ve seen a noticeable difference in the Prado and the Hilux since using a number of CEM products, so we can certainly recommend them. Check out their website or give them a call to have a chat. They offer free delivery Australia wide.

Here are some common engine problems / mechanical problems which they can help you with:

  • Overheating Diesel Engine
  • Common Rail Injector Rattle
  • White Smoke at Cold Start
  • Diesel Engine Sludge
  • Diesel Injector Rattle
  • Black Diesel Engine Oil
  • Crankcase Blow-By
  • Maximum Power – Minimum Engine Wear
  • Engine Carbon
  • Petrol Engine Sludge

At Checkout, use code “4x4OTT” for a 10% discount.


Auto Parts Co

APC is an Australian owned retailer of 4WD parts and accessories. Check them out for all your 4WDing and camping parts and accessories and you’ll be impressed with their prices. As they are able to go straight to the importers and manufacturers, they can cut out the expensive middlemen and pass those savings on to you!

Over the years we’ve gathered a lot of our products from APC and most recently we ordered all of our suspension for the Hilux and the whole process was quick and easy. Definitely worth checking them out next time you need anything for your 4WD.

At Checkout, use code “OTT4x4” for a 5% discount


Swig Cups – $24

These Swig Cups by Love Your Travels are amazing, Shelly loves hers! (she has the pretty sparkly charcoal one!). And what’s better is that if you order using our code, YOU get a 10% discount!

These Insulated Swig Cups hold 400ml, are durable and tough, perfect for day to day life and an ideal camping accessory.   They will keep your Hot & Cold Beverages at their optimum temperature for hours. These Double Walled, Stainless Steel Swig Cups are made from 304 Stainless Steel and all cups come with a BPA–Free secure push on slide lid with a silicon seal.

Check out the ‘Love Your Travels’ website for the huge colour range available.

At Checkout, use code “Offthetrack4x4” for a 10% discount


Shower Ezy – The Complete Set – $34.50

This is a product we found a few years ago and we now use them in the car and for when travelling. There are so many uses for the various handy little products that Shower Ezy have available for sale. The showpiece seller though is ‘The Complete Set’, which really is the perfect gift for any camper or traveler.

This set comes in a range of colours and includes 3 x Silicone non-drip, non-spill bottles, 5 x stainless steel D-Rings, Aluminium carabiners, 1 x detachable body loofah. This is all held on an easy to carry lanyard made from Neoprene (wetsuit) waterproof fabric, making it easy to carry around your neck, hang over the back of the shower door etc.

There are also other products available to make your camping adventures easy ….. perfect for airline travel as well as the bottles are 98ml each.


Macca’s BBQ Seasoning Rubs – $9.99

For those that know “Macca”, the host of the TV show, What’s Up Downunder …. well he’s brought out his own range of BBQ Rubs. Perfect for your next BBQ or campfire cook up, or even just at home in the oven or slow cooker.

Available in four different flavours:

  • Great Southern Lamb
  • Captain James Chook
  • Great Barrier Beef
  • That’ll Do Pig

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Scrubba Wash Bag – $69.95

The Scrubba Wash Bag is one of those great little Aussie inventions. It’s basically a little tiny washing machine …. well kinda! But for those who are travelling, free camping or living on the road, you’ll know that you can’t always be around a washing machine (or in fact, have access to a lot of water). Well that’s why you need this Scrubba bag!

The Scrubba Bag has a unique old school wash board inside, so when you add a small amount of water, your dirty clothes and a little detergent…your washing is done in minutes. Little tip, if you use wool wash instead of normal detergent you don’t need to rinse the clothes after washing so you save on even more water.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.

Click here to see a short video of how this works.


Slide n’ Dry Pegless Clothesline – $12.95

This Aussie made product is designed and manufactured in Melbourne and it’s one of those things that every camper needs! We recently purchased one and it’s so easy and compact and no more carrying around clotheslines that get tangled up and pegs that either get lost or are bulky to store.

Each packet of Slide n’ Dry Pegless Clotheslines comes with 12 slides that have 24 points to hold your washing and 2 bungee cords to secure it, all packaged in a handy zip lock reusable bag!

The slides are made from UV protected plastic so they won’t go brittle or fade in the sun! They are compact and lightweight, which means they are perfect for caravanning, camping, cruising, backpacking, hiking, overseas adventures…or even at home!

And for those environmentally conscious people, these are made with the highest quality materials with a PET 5 rating ensuring they are recyclable!

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Winerest Camping Chair Wine Glass Holder – $16

For all you wine lovers out there, does your wine glass keep falling over? Well here’s the product you need, check this out!

This product is designed & developed in Australia so that it can cope with our harsh outdoor elements. Sun, dirt, sand, wind, water …. no worries, it is designed to deal with all of this!

This comes in a range of colours and can be used on most camping chairs and outdoor furniture. The arms of your camping chair should be thicker than 3cm and not ‘tubes’. 

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Icy Pole Holders – $10 for a 4 pack

Perfect for kids (and big kids like George – he loves them!)

Easy to pop over your icy pole to keep kiddies happy and save on using paper towel or tea towels etc. These are made from high quality neoprene, double stitched at each end and sewn and glued…making them super durable … and machine washable.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Travel Journal – $24.95

This Australian made Travel Journal is packed with journal pages to document your daily experiences and look back on your memories in years to come. It also includes a plastic coated Checklist that can be used and re-used (simply tick the boxes with a non-permanent marker and then rub off after your trip is finished). There is also a plastic coated Address Book, as well as various Activity Pages which can be photocopied and filled in on each trip.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Log Book – $10.95

This 2 part A5 log book includes 160 entries of Trip Information, plus over 160 entries for logging your caravan/vehicle KM’s traveled and Fuel Consumption.

The front part of the log book allows you to note down where you stayed, rate it and jot down any notes to refer back to later. The back part allows you to keep track of the km the vehicle/caravan/camper travels.

These are available from the Caravanning With Kids website. By ordering through the link below, we will earn a small commission, but this will be at no additional cost to you.


Hema 4WD Maps App & Hema Navigator

Hema are Australia’s leading GPS navigation systems for on and off-road travel. We never travel without our Hema 4WD maps app and also our paper maps.

The app is well worth the money as it offers offline 4WD maps for the whole of Australia, right there on your iPhone or iPad ….. and you don’t need an Internet connection. The app utilises offline mapping and your device’s own in-built GPS receiver to see where you on detailed Hema maps, which feature roads, 4WD tracks, topographic information and points of interest to guide your travels off the beaten track.

Check out their full range of products via the link below.


All of these are items which we use and can recommend. We love supporting our small Aussie companies and if we find a great product which works for us and makes our life a little easier, then we are more than happy to spread the word!

We love being able to give back to you guys, so we have been busy lately working with various companies to bring you some discount codes to be able to give a little back to you ….. at the end of the day, it’s a win for everyone!

So come on guys, show them some love and check out the websites …. maybe you’ll find something you love too!

Longreach, Outback Queensland

Longreach is known as the ‘Heart of the Outback’ or ‘Gateway to the Outback’. This great little town is home to approximately 3000 people and is located in the central west region of Queensland – about 700 km inland from Rockhampton.

The first pastoral lease in Longreach was granted in 1863 and was called ‘Bowen Downs’. Some may recognize that name …. only a few years later it became the site of the most infamous cattle theft in Australia. It was from here that Harry Redford (Captain Starlight) decided to steal 1,000 head of cattle and muster them down towards South Australia. We did mention a little of Captain Starlight’s story in one of our recent blog posts

Longreach was very big in the wool industry and back in the 1950’s it was a very wealthy area due to this. Nowadays, although wool producers still exist, Longreach is now heavily involved in the beef cattle industry.

The Thomson River is found just outside the town and is a great spot for camping, fishing and boating and is home to many fish and birds. Not only is this river a popular spot for Longreach locals and tourists alike, it is a pretty special river in it’s own right. You see, the Thomson River eventually meets with the Barcoo River where they join to form Cooper Creek. This is the only place in the world where two rivers meet to form a creek!

Longreach was officially gazetted in 1887 and was actually named after the founder could not believe how long the reach of the Thomson River was!

There is plenty to do in and around Longreach and below we’ve detailed a few of the places we visited during our short stop over this time.


STARLIGHT’S CRUISE EXPERIENCE (by Outback Pioneers)

This appears to be a very popular cruise and we can see why, it was great!

Our night started when we were picked up from our van park at 4.30 pm and driven by coach down to the river, along the way we were given commentary and information about the town and it’s history. After arriving you are escorted to down to the river to board the Thomson Belle Paddlewheeler (we were actually on the Thomson Princess Riverboat, which was still great. They use both boats when the groups are large).

The cruise itself goes for about 1 hour and includes nibble platters, great commentary and lots of laughs (and it’s BYO so you can enjoy a few drinks too). After watching the sunset, we then headed ashore for some bush poetry which was great. The first poem in particular, about the light horses was quite emotional. This was followed by a traditional stockman’s camp-fire dinner of beef stew and mash, followed by apple pie and custard.

After dinner we all headed back down towards the river to watch the sound and light show which explained the story and adventures of the notorious cattle thief Harry Redford, also known as ‘Captain Starlight’.

We then finished the night with billy tea and damper around the fire, raising of the flag and singing the national anthem, before being dropped off back at camp about 8.30pm.

This is one of those real outback experiences, full of great hospitality, information and yarns. It’s run by the Kinnon family, who are a local family of graziers who have moved into the tourism business as well. The pride and the passion they have for their little town and the lives they live is well and truly alive throughout the night.

Highly recommended tour and next time we are in town we will definitely be booking into their Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience as well.

Contact
Telephone: 07 4658 1776
Email: reservations@outbackpioneers.com.au
Click Here for more information
The booking office is located next door to the Station Store in the historic ‘Welcome Home’ building at 128 Eagle Street, Longreach.

Cruise Details
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $119 per adult (as at October 2019)
The price includes river cruise, nibbles, 2 course dinner around campfire, billy tea & damper, entertainment, Starlight’s Spectacular Sound and Light show, coach pick up and drop off from accommodation, BYO alcohol.


TROPIC OF CAPRICORN

The Tropic of Capricorn runs right through the centre of town in Longreach.

Location: Landsborough Highway, Longreach (outside the council chambers)


AUSTRALIAN STOCKMAN’S HALL OF FAME AND OUTBACK HERITAGE CENTRE

This centre was opened in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II. If you want to learn about outback life, our explorers and land owners and everything in between, this is the place to visit. Not only is the museum a great insight into Australia’s and outback Australia’s history, the building itself is amazing!

The Outback Stockman’s Show & Dinner also looks amazing and something we will do when we visit next …. always something else to add to the list!

Now while the museum is a must-do, the Australian Stockman’s Experience show is awesome! It’s run by a Stockman and between him and his animals we were guided through life on the land from years gone by to now. You hear his stories of life on the land first hand. It’s a fun, entertaining and informative hour long show that you cannot miss! The Australian Stockman’s Experience show is held most days at 11am.

Address: Landsborough Highway, Longreach
Phone: 07 4658 2166
Email: museum@stockmanshalloffame.com.au
Website: www.outbackheritage.com.au


QANTAS FOUNDERS OUTBACK MUSEUM

We visited the Qantas Founders Museum and did the tours during our last visit to Longreach so this time we just popped over for lunch and took a few quick pics from the car park! But this is a DEFINITE must to visit if you are in Longreach.

QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Arial Service) is a name everyone knows, and even if you aren’t all that interested in planes, i’m sure you’ll find that you enjoy a visit to this place. It’s not hard to find, the big red tail of a decommissioned Boeing 747 jumbo jet can be seen from miles away and as you get up close you realise exactly how big these planes are, you are literally parking in the car park right next to a jumbo jet!

Of course entry fees apply to the museum and to undertake the different tours so make sure you arrive early or check online beforehand to work out what you want to see and do. You’ll not only learn all the history of this famous airline, but you’ll see plenty of old planes and displays, learn the secrets and obtain access to parts of the planes that you would never normally see.

Address: Sir Hudson Fysh Drive, Longreach
Phone:  (07) 4658 3737
Email: info@qfom.com.au
Website: www.qfom.com.au


Like we said, there are plenty of other things to do in the area, like a visit to the School of the Air, Powerhouse Museum, Cemetery tours, Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience, Harry Redford Old Time Tent Show, Captain Starlight’s Lookout, station tours.

Make sure you call into the information centre on Eagle Street to grab a tourist guide or ask them questions as they know where to get the deals and save on entry fees or buy combined passes for various attractions. This is generally our first stop in any new town. They are knowledgeable, they are locals and they know the area so go in and ask them questions, ask what there is to do in the time you have. At the end of the day, that’s what they are there for!

George hanging with the locals!

Yeah it was a short visit, but we had been there before so we don’t feel like we missed out on anything. We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 night stay at the Longreach Tourist Park (a much better experience than we had camping in Longreach last visit!). As it was a relatively last minute decision to visit Longreach we obviously didn’t pre-book and as it turns out, they were quite busy! We ended up camping in the overflow area of the park and to be honest, we thought it was better as we had more room!

As with many of these outback towns, Longreach know that how much the tourists bring to their town and they really do cater for that. You’ll even find dedicated caravan day parking areas where you can park your car with caravan attached while you go exploring.

Winton, Outback Queensland

After leaving Boulia we said goodbye to Stewy and the kids as they headed back to Queensland and we also started off on our journey home. We had no plan, but we had about 6 days before we needed to be back in Sydney so we had a quick check of the maps and decided to headed off towards Winton.

After a week of no showers (thank god for baby wipes!) we decided to check into a hotel for the night and make good use of their shower and bed! We also took a night off cooking and headed to one of the local pubs, The Winton Hotel, for dinner.

The next morning we were up early to get in some exploring before the relatively short drive to Longreach, where we planned to spend 2 nights. We’ve visited both Winton and Longreach before, but it was nice to be back and spend a bit more time looking around.

If you ever find yourself in Winton, here are a few of the highlights for you to check out.

The North Gregory Hotel

Established in 1879, The North Gregory Hotel was reportedly the site of the first public performance of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’, on 6th April 1895.

The original North Gregory Hotel was was pulled down in 1900 and rebuilt, only to burn down in 1916 and again in 1946. The building that stands now was built in 1955 and nowadays this hotel is not only a reminder of the past, but also a great place to eat, drink and sleep.

Located in the centre of town, this hotel provides hotel rooms and non-powered caravan sites.

Address: 67 Elderslie Street, Winton
Phone: 07 4657 0647


Qantas Airfield Commemorative Cairn

This location marks the site of the first landing ground of Qantas. When most people are asked where Qantas was born, they think Longreach, but it was in fact Winton. The local saying about Qantas is that it was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach.

The Qantas story officially begins with it’s ‘birth’ in Winton on 16th November 1920, with the initial registration of the company. The Winton Shire Council was the first local authority in the world to support an airline, contributing financially to the purchase of the first landing field. The first Board Meeting was held at the Winton Club on 10th February 1921. There is a commemorative cairn in Elderslie St and also at the site of the landing field.

Price: Free!
Location: Located on Hughenden  Road, behind the Diamantina Heritage
Truck and Machinery Museum 


The Winton Club

On 10th February 1921 the first Qantas Board meeting was held here. We believe there is quite a range of Qantas memorabilia on display, but the club has never been open while we are there.

Location: 27 Oondooroo Street, Winton
Contact: wintonclub@hotmail.com


Jolly Swagman Statue

This statue is dedicated to Banjo Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda. It’s also a tribute to the many swagmen who lie in unmarked graves across Australia.

Price: Free!
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton
(outside the pool at Barry Wilson Memorial Park) 


Musical Fence

This is a strange, yet fun!, place where you can ‘play’ musical instruments made from various everyday items. This is the worlds first musical fence!

Price: Free!
Location: Located on Hughenden  Road, behind the Diamantina Heritage
Truck and Machinery Museum 


 Banjo Paterson statue

A statue of Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda. Note: A fire destroyed the Waltzing Matilda Centre in June 2015 but the statue of Banjo Paterson was undamaged. The new centre re-opened in 2018. 

Price: Free!
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton
(located outside the Waltzing Matilda Centre)


Waltzing Matilda Centre

This is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song! This centre tells the story of our unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda.

Unfortunately the original Waltzing Matilda Centre was completely destroyed by fire in June 2015 and very little was able to be saved from the ashes. We did visit the original centre and it was great.

Price: $30 per adult, $10 per child (age 5-11) as at September 2019
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton


The Age of Dinosaurs Museum  

If you like Dinosaurs (and lets face it, who doesn’t!) then this museum is somewhere you need to visit. This is home to the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world.

Years ago while out this way we visited Lark Quarry, the site of the world’s only known record of a dinosaur stampede, that was pretty cool! So this time we visited the The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum to learn a little more about these amazing prehistoric creatures.

We even got to touch a fossilised dinosaur bone, how awesome is that!

The tours are split into 3 sections, but we didn’t have time to see the Dinosaur Canyon, but we did join the guided tour of the Fossil Preparation Laboratory and the Collection Room. Great few hours and highly recommended to visit if in the area. If you are limited for time, just let them know when you arrive and they will happily work out which tours you can do.

The Fossil Preparation Laboratory shows you where palaeontologists expose the fossilised bones, you can actually see them working.

The Collection Room is where you’ll find the bones of ‘Banjo’ (Australovenator wintonensis). ‘Banjo’ is the most complete Australian carnivorous dinosaur ever discovered.

We didn’t visit the Dinosaur Canyon but this area is part of a dinosaur dig where bones are currently being found.

You can even book in to a ‘Dig-a-Dino’ experience where you take part in a real life dig for dinosaur bones. You live and work and learn onsite for 5 days. Definitely something we’d both be interested in taking part in at some point in the future.

Price: Prices vary depending on which tours you do. See website
Website: www.australianageofdinosaurs.com/
Location: Lot 1, Dinosaur Drive, Winton
Located about 25km from Winton. Turn off the Landsborough
Highway onto Dinosaur Drive (it’s well signposted). We were towing
the camper and there is plenty of room for parking.


There is plenty more to do around Winton, and there are some great pubs and eateries and bakeries. Another must visit (which we went to on our last visit and loved it) is the Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum. This features many restored heritage trucks, tractors, machinery and memorabilia.

Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular

We did it! We finally visited the Christmas lights at the Hunter Valley Gardens.  This is the largest Christmas light display in the Southern Hemisphere.

img_7060

img_7062

img_7100

img_7078

img_7101

The Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular is held every year from November until January (this year it closed on Australia Day, not sure if that is the case every year or not).

img_7090

img_7096

img_7058

img_7089

img_7097

If you have kids they will absolutely love it, but even the big kids (adults) will enjoy the night.

img_7070

img_7107

img_7074

img_7085

img_7076

As well as the lights display there are also rides, food and entertainment.

img_7094

img_7092

img_7079

img_7095

The lights are set up around the gardens and are split into different displays, including the Giant Teddy, Princess Castle, Santa’s Workshop, Candyland and Fairy Garden.

img_7073

img_7067

img_7113

img_7093

img_7099

img_7098

This event is held at the Hunter Valley Gardens, located at 2090 Broke Road Pokolbin, NSW 2320. 📞 02 4998 4000.  http://www.huntervalleygardens.com.au

img_7087

img_7106

img_7102

img_7111

img_7066

img_7056

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.

img_6865

img_6870

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.

img_6874

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.


Don’t forget to Share and Follow us on

Facebook   Instagram   YouTube   Blog    www.georgeandshelly.com

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.

IMG_5306

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.

IMG_5317

Ash & Tas swinging from the vines!

IMG_1297

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.

IMG_1296

IMG_5311

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.

IMG_1293

IMG_1292

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.”

IMG_5319

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.

IMG_1292

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

IMG_5323

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


Don’t forget to Share and Follow us on

Facebook   Instagram   YouTube   Blog    www.georgeandshelly.com

cropped-untitled

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!

IMG_1613

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.

IMG_5254

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.

IMG_1593

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.

IMG_5255

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.

IMG_5234

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!

IMG_5253

IMG_5251

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

IMG_1606

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.


Don’t forget to Share and Follow us on

Facebook   Instagram   YouTube   Blog    www.georgeandshelly.com

cropped-untitled

Tackling the Tele – Bramwell Station

It was a leisurely start for the day as we left Weipa and took the Batavia Downs track towards Bramwell Station.  It was during this journey that our Prado started flashing up some warning lights on the dash, it appeared that there was an issue with the 4WD system, but as we had no reception or internet service it was hard to ascertain exactly what was wrong.

We waited until we arrived at Bramwell Station and then set about trying to fix the problem, as a Prado without low range was not going to be a fun Prado to be in on the tele track!  The scan tool wasn’t showing any error codes, but there was obviously something wrong so George & Liam set about trying to work it out.  Eventually, after trying everything else, they decided to just ‘clear’ all error codes (even though there weren’t any!) and the lights disappeared.  A few quick tests and it was confirmed that the 4WD gears were working again!  Little did we know this problem was going to keep popping up during the trip, but at least for now we knew we’d have low range on the tele track.

Now if you are looking for the perfect place to stay before you tackle the Old Tele Track, then you really need to get yourself to Bramwell Station (not Bramwell Junction, but Bramwell Station).  It’s the same family that own both properties, but if you want a fun-filled night, full of laughs and entertainment, then you need to stay at the station.

Bramwell Station is the most northerly cattle station in Australia, but apart from being a working cattle station, it’s a great tourist park with accommodation units and a huge camping ground.

The video below shows Matt (our self-appointed table captain) trying to get our table to sing the loudest!

We stayed here on our last trip and thought it was great, but stay here in the peak tourist season and you really see what this place has to offer.  The ringing of the station’s bell signals happy hour at the bar and of course we were all there ready and waiting!  But this was just the start of the night.  Most of us chose to have the buffet dinner and that was money well spent.  There is live entertainment at the station every night during the peak tourist season.  The beers were flowing, the food was plentiful and the entertainment was great.  Plenty of laughs were had this night, it was absolutely the perfect way to relax before we tackled the old tele track the next morning.


Don’t forget to Share and Follow us on

Facebook   Instagram   YouTube   Blog    www.georgeandshelly.com

cropped-untitled