December 2019 - January 2020
  • Day3

    Christmas Holiday 2019

    December 23, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Finally the holidays arrived. Regan and I both left the office a little earlier than expected on Friday. With the temperature climbing rapidly over 40 people were advised to get on the trains early to avoid disruptions. It was 42 when I got off the train and blowing as well so was like walking into a blast furnace. The rest of the afternoon was spent getting organised for our family Christmas and packing the truck.

    Saturday was a lovely day with Gareth, Jess, Ahmarni, Lola and Sonny this year coming for lunch. We took the girls to a local park in between courses for us all to try and process the first course. Sonny was rather obliging and slept through the whole event ( unfortunately that meant he was up all night!) They left about 4pm and we did the large clean up , finished the packing and headed to their place around 6pm.

    I had a disaster as I was unpacking things into the van. I dropped a can of coke and it completely exploded, I was washing coke off the ceiling, cupboards and even the mattress. I suspect I will be finding dried coke in unexpected places for the whole holiday.

    We left Gareth’s on Sunday morning around 11 and drove 300km to Lakes Entrance close to the VIC/NSW border. We had lunch in Traralgon which has the very impressive post office in the photos. Lunch was in the van as we have heaps of left overs to get through before we start again on Christmas Day.

    As we drove into Bairnsdale you could really see the smoke from the Vic Fire about 50km away. We arrived at the camp just after 5 and were all set up and enjoying a drink before 6. We are starting to get the set up routine down pat. We did a large walk after dinner around the lagoon and out to the beach before coming back to town, was good to stretch the legs after the driving.
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  • Day3

    Day One Lakes Entrance

    December 23, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Woke this morning after a fantastic sleep to a very smoky sky. Nice leisurely breakfast and then a walk into town to explore. There are a large number of fishing boats based here and we were too late for any prawns off the boats today. We would have to be up and at the wharf by 7:30 to be in with a shot tomorrow. So nice being right by the water though.

    In the afternoon we took the bikes out and explored the North Arm which is behind the township. We avoided any hills and really enjoyed the ride. I bought some fresh duck fish for my dinner which was delicious. Later in the afternoon we both did a few caravan set up jobs and of course then it was gin o’clock again.

    We christened the new BBQ with dinner and then another camp walk. There must be over a dozen camping grounds here and almost as many mini golf courses. That might be our Christmas Day entertainment.
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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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  • 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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  • Day8


    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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