December 2019 - January 2020
  • Day15

    Shepparton to home

    January 4, 2020 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Luckily the severe heat reduced overnight. We still awoke to 23 degrees and it increased fast to 28 by the time we hitched up and departed just after 9am. The day was heading into the 40’s so thought it best that we get away early. Traffic back to Melbourne was less than expected so made good time. Mainly dual carriageway freeways until we took a backroad and met up with Julie from Timaru for brunch. Only another hour or so back to Melbourne to sadly unpack and clean up.

    Overall our trip was uneventful as we were always at least a day ahead of any bushfires. Taking notice of the official warnings was good for us and most of our fellow travellers. The heat day after day was hard work and draining. Our trip was of course a test for us and our rig to see what is practical with respect to comfortable distances and making sure we allow time to stop and see the sights.
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  • Day14

    Wagga to Shepparton

    January 3, 2020 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Once again we woke to bushfire smoke. Temperature was forecast to hit 39 right through our trip today. Had a 300km trip staying off the main highway and the predicted traffic due to holidaymakers heading home earlier.

    Heading west was a good move away from smoke and traffic. Went through small towns which feed the local areas. Wherever we went the bush flies were with us. We spend most of our time doing the “Aussie wave” trying to shoo them away. They are really persistent and have little respect for us trying to swat them. I now realise that corks on hats are a brilliant idea but we would probably get laughed out of town if we wore them. Julie had another drive along a very narrow and isolated road. These back roads really tested the suspension and us. It was a hard drive and slowed us somewhat due to lack of comfort.

    Stopped for lunch on the Murray river at Barooga then a quick coffee stop at Cobram. Walking the town in 37 degrees isn’t much fun.
    Got to Shepparton around 3pm and set up in 37 degrees before a quick trip into the cbd for groceries for our last night.

    Back to camp for a swim. As always the pool was full of kids but very understandable on a day like today. The water always seems really cold compared to body temperature but very refreshing. Then back to the comfort of aircon in the caravan, constant heat is really quite draining.
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  • Day13

    Wagga Day Two

    January 2, 2020 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Woke up to very thick smoke so gave us a taste of what the rest of the state has been experiencing for the past month. We heard early one group of friends were safely back in Melbourne and tonight the other group we were concerned about are on the road to Canberra which is a relief.

    This morning we did a bike ride around Lake Albert supposedly. You can see from the photos why we think there was a lake there. Halfway around we ran into someone who we had met in Morocco who is now a policeman in Wagga. It was lovely to catch up with him and hear some local outlook. Hi Tony! Our eyes were stinging with the smoke by the time we got back to the caravan. The air quality in Wagga today was 259ppm. Safe air quality is 50ppm.

    Regan baked some awesome scones in the caravan oven for lunch. This afternoon we had some cabin fever with the smoke and 35 again so took off into town for a visit to the National Glass Art Gallery. Wagga is the home of glass in Australia evidently and work on display was amazing.

    We drove up the hill to a look-out but was a bit pointless today. Back to the camp for the predictable swim and evening tipple. We watched the news and saw more communities being told to leave before it was too late this time Wagga and Tumut were the evacuation points. This evening when we were swimming we met a family who had had 3 days in the danger zone with no power and had made the call to drive out. They hope to go home on Monday but there are absolutely no guarantees. On the way back to the van we saw at least 4 other families we suspect are in the same situation, all rather confronting.

    Tomorrow we are heading Melbourne way but will break the trip with a night in Shepparton. More heat predicted but hopefully less smoke haze
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  • Day12

    Junee to Wagga Wagga

    January 1, 2020 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Awoke to dense smoke in Junee. The smell hit us and the view was like dusk. As we packed up and set off the day was forecast as another warm one. Only 34 degrees but it does slow down our activities. On the road to Wagga the smoke was thick but within 15 minutes we were out into a clear day. Still a light haze but nothing like the brown tinge we came from. The wind had changed direction overnight which pushed the smoke our way.
    Uneventful drive as it was only 40 minutes. Got into Wagga late morning and wandered the shops for a time then set up camp. By now the temperature was hot so a quick grocery shop, a visit to the old railway station then back to the camp pool with about 10 noisy kids churning up the water.
    Book reading in the shade with a drink, dinner and another swim. Nice to have a slow day.
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  • Day11

    Tumut to Junee

    December 31, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 37 °C

    A shorter drive today. Only 100km. Had an early walk into Tumut town before breakfast and before the temperature climbed into the 30’s.
    One of the motels had multiple fire trucks parked outside. A reminder that there is a large bushfire 30 km away. 54000 hectares and still out of control. Luckily we are upwind from it so quite safe.

    Stopped off at Gundagai which is a village that has been bypassed by the main Sydney to Melbourne highway. Some really old bridges there from the railway era. The heat was intense but we managed to walk the main street for coffees and a local craft shop.Headed to June on a back road with hardly any traffic which gave Julie the perfect opportunity to drive with 2.5 tonne of caravan. Temperatures were in mid 30’s so a leisurely trip was very uneventful.

    Junee is a railway town and we got there and had to wait at the railway crossing for the Sydney to Melbourne train. We normally see this at our place in Footscray as it passes by to deliver its load to Melbourne.After setting up at the campground and a swim we headed to the supermarket for supplies and a quick drive around town. Not like us to drive but at 36 degrees it’s a safer option.

    The news here is all about the bushfires and a few tragic deaths also. We were sad to see the historic Genoa bridge which we were at a few days ago has succumbed to a fire. Pics included of us there and the latest photo taken earlier today. A quiet New Year for us before we head south to Wagga Wagga tomorrow . Another swim before dark.

    Happy New Year everyone. Where did that decade disappear!
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  • Day10

    Eden to Tumut

    December 30, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

    Left Eden around 9.30am for the drive north west. Took a back road through farm country as a shortcut to Cooma. Road was narrow but hardly any traffic which was relaxing for a change. As we moved inland the temperature started climbing. A big climb after Bombala really tested the Ute. Temperature was showing low 40’s and with a steep pass of about 16km to climb the engine temperature was getting high. Took our time with a couple of breaks and made it up into the Snowy country.

    Stopped at Cooma for lunch with our friends Michelle and Iain who were heading back to Lake Tyers. (unfortunately as they traveled south they got blocked by bushfire then got isolated at Orbost as another fire came in behind them. They are stuck tonight with all roads closed)

    The Snowy land is around 1100 to 1400metres above sea level and reminded us a lot of the Mckenzie country. Tussock and lots of lay-bys to fit snow chains. At 36 degrees we had no chains! Temperature stayed well above 30 for the whole trip and the rig had a few tests with steady uphills and a long steep downhill to test the brakes..

    Arrived in Tumut at 4pm to 41 degrees and windy. Julie tried the river beside the camp which is obviously ice-fed. Regan dipped his legs and lost feeling soon after. Tonight is the aircon test as it’s still 37 degrees at 8pm. We expect more of the same in the next few days as we head to Wagga Wagga tomorrow if we can get accomodation
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  • Day9

    Eden and Merimbula

    December 29, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

    A more relaxing day at Eden Reflections campground. Considering it is a big camp and full it is really quiet after 10pm. Wakeup call is provided by the cockys about 6am. They are big birds swooping and arguing with one another. The Australian birdlife always stops us in our tracks to view. So many parrot varieties.

    Decided a trip up the coast without caravan would be good so went to Merimbula for coffee with our friend Del. The town was packed with people so we were glad to get back to our more relaxed and less populated Eden. Merimbula is known for being a perfect environment to growing oysters.

    A final swim in the sea with the breakers crashing in, such a good beach to go swimming (4 gentle swells to every wave that gives you some excitement). A walk after dinner through two other campgrounds and then back at camp for the last night
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  • Day8

    Eden

    December 28, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    So far we have had beautiful weather in Eden with the temperatures significantly improved from Lakes Entrance. Yesterday was a day of discovery we biked around Lake Curalo which is bit like an estuary. Obviously there has been no rain and the lake entrance was closed to the sea. It made things a little smelly and a whole pile of dead fish where the water had obviously become way too salty.

    We then walked into the town which was a bit of an uphill climb and especially warm when the sea breeze disappeared. Not a hugely exciting little town and almost completely over run by visitors. In the afternoon I had my first swim of the holiday in the sea which was much warmer than I anticipated.

    We raised a gin to my Dad who would have been 80 yesterday and had a good catch up with Mum on the phone. The humidity was up so was a lovely night to go out to the beach to check out the stars in the dark.

    Today we did a beach walk before breakfast . We discovered yesterday lovely Melbourne friends Del and Pete happened to be staying just up the road in Merimbula and were able to come for lunch. Such a bonus to be able to spend some time with them and a perfect holiday lunch, couple of bottles of wine and delicious nibbles.

    A storm came in while Del and Pete were here which cooled things off and gave us the perfect excuse for a little afternoon nap after they left, we have totally slipped into holiday mode.
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  • Day6

    Lakes Entrance to Eden

    December 26, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We had heavy drizzle in the morning so got a bit damp packing up. We had expected heavy traffic but it was not too bad and with all Australian roads there were regular passing bays. You know it is holidays as multiple cars passed packed to the hilt and multiple bikes bouncing along at the back.

    We stopped at Orbost the last real town before the border, I would suspect it has a population of a few thousand. We walked the Main Street and I had a lovely time browsing a craft collective market. I bought a pretty shoulder bag and onion jam which was delicious in our lunch sandwiches.

    We then pushed on for a hundred kms to get the majority of the driving done. The road was mainly through state forests so very green but quite bumpy. Lunch was at a tiny spot called Genoa, the campers and tourists out numbered any local residents by about 40 to one (local pop estimated at 5). They had saved a lovely Central Otago summers we love.

    Arrived in Eden around 3:30 and I was so excited to see we are right across the road from the beach. Was very warm setting up but we are getting it down to a fine art now, less than 30 mins. We are on an unpowered site so will be testing the solar power and all out set up throughly. Quick trip into town to pick up some supplies including cold cider and back for drinks and nibbles. Simple BBQ dinner and camp walk before dinner.

    Amazing sunset, a little sad that the pink skies are due to the fires but it does make for a spectacular view.
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  • Day4

    Christmas Day

    December 24, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Christmas Eve
    We started early with a trip down to the fishing boats at 7:30am to see if we could get some prawns. The first boat had all theirs pre ordered and sent us to the co-op which supposedly had a boat unloading. After a wait for the doors to open I was lucky enough to snap up a kilo bag. More than I needed but I was not going to quibble. We decided while we were out to brave the supermarket as well. Everything done and dusted by 9am. The supermarket was sure getting busy by the time we left.

    Not long after that the weather closed in and most of the day was heavy cloud and passing showers. We pretty much surrendered to holiday time and got stuck into our books. We braved a walk mid afternoon and then drove to Lake Tyers to meet some friends for a drink. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours catching up looking out to sea. Back to the van for dinner and a relatively early night.

    Christmas Day
    A lovely lazy morning responding to lots of messages from NZ and then a delicious breakfast. We went for a long walk into town and out to the beach and then a drive up to the lookout to get some photos of the view that took my breathe away on the day we arrived. Lunch was simple spring vegetables with steak for Regan and prawns for me (so worth the early get up). We also enjoyed a delicious sparkling Shiraz from our Christmas trip to South Australia 2 years ago.

    Very lazy afternoon enjoying the sun, icecreams and Regan braved a swim. Simple tea of sandwiches I think and Regan will enjoy his family recipe trifle. We have also started to pack up as tomorrow we move to stop two at Eden. Expecting heaps of traffic so will take our time. Merry Christmas to you all from the caravan couple. Xx
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