Its finally time for a Gap Year! After 33 years of working we have decided to bite the bullet, hitch up the van and do the Big Lap of Australia.
Living in: Cairns

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  • Day177

    Called in to this famous roadhouse on the way up towards Alice Springs. This had been the site of Dinky the singing dingo for many years, but unfortunately it has seen a change of ownership. The piano and all sorts of memorabilia are still on display.

    We took advantage of the free unpowered camping for 2 nights and did some 4 wheel driving out to Rainbow Valley.

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  • Day175

    Drove out to Kings Canyon where we completed the Rim Walk and Garden of Eden. Fantastic hike of about 8km with a very steep initial climb, but steady going from there. The Resort was a tad expensive at $50pn so we chose to free camp at Salt Creek which proved to be a great spot complete with resident dingoes!

    We stayed 2 nights here as we were a bit weary from constant driving and hiking, and really relished the downtime. Had the choofer firing both nights whilst listening to the dingoes howling. They were very tame and hung around us in the hope of being fed.

    Temperature 8-26°
    Diesel $1.98
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  • Day172

    After much planning and great anticipation we finally met our friends Mick & Michelle at Ayers Rock Campground. They will be travelling with us for the next 6 weeks as we head north.

    Had a teriffic 3 days exploring Ayers Rock and The Olgas. I did climb the rock for a short distance before my lack of appropriate footwear, and fear of heights proved my undoing. Mick continued on to the top of the rock. The climb is very steep and extremely windy as you get higher...I can't help being surprised that there has only been 37 deaths recorded on the climb. The number of people climbing Ayers Rock is decreasing over time and it is inevitable that it will be prohibited in the next few years. We enjoyed a couple of Ayers Rock sunsets watching how the fading light changed the colour of the rock...fantastic!

    We also completed a 4km walk through the Valley of the Winds at The Olgas. Incredible rock formations and the view from the valley lookout was great. The Olgas are 200m higher than Ayers Rock at 546m.

    Warming up...temperature 8-29°
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  • Day169

    We've been noodling! Found a couple of opal chips at the public noodling area...don't think we can retire yet though.

    Stayed 2 nights at Coober Pedy at the Oasis Caravan Park. We picked this park because it has 6ft barbed wire fencing and gates are locked at 10pm. Theft is pretty rife in this place and the other parks all have issues. Thankfully we had no problems during our stay.

    Spent an afternoon driving through the Breakaways and continued on to the Dog Fence and Moon Plains where Pricilla Queen of the Desert and the Mad Max movies were made. We then drove back to the Breakaways and had drinks and nibbles whilst viewing the sunset. Other highlights included Umoona Mine and Museum, the Catacomb underground church, Fayes underground house, Josephine's kangaroo orphanage and the golf club.

    Water is precious in Coober Pedy, and we found it interesting that they have a public water filling station in the main street, similar to a petrol bowser, where you insert a $1 coin per 30 litres of water. We used this to top up our van tank before leaving for Ayers Rock. Even the caravan park had meters in the showers...20c for 3 minutes!

    Getting warmer as we head north 10 - 26°
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  • Day167

    Overnight free camp on the way up to Coober Pedy. Lake Hart is a hidden gem on the Stuart Highway. It's a salt lake that used to be mined for it's extremely high quality salt in the early 1900's. We drove through the carpark area onto the 4wd tracks that lead down to the salt lake and found a great spot where we had views over the lake.

    Called in to Woomera on the way, and checked out the museum and information centre. Amazing military history associated with this place and it's defence systems testing is still ongoing.Read more

  • Day166

    Stayed 4 nights at Port Augusta Sports Club $7 pn. Pretty ordinary camp and town to be honest. The whole place smells like rotten seaweed depending on the direction of the wind, and there's an outdoor shooting range across the road which impressed Marg no end! At least there was a dump point, water and we had use of the clubs toilets when they were open.

    We used Port Augusta to get the car serviced and stock up before heading north up the Stuart Highway towards Coober Pedy. We vacuum sealed a heap of meat (using the genny), and the club froze it in their freezer for us. The meat should last at least 4 weeks in our fridges as we now leave civilization.Read more

  • Day161

    We spent 5 days at Upalinna Station ($15 pn) which is just 5 minutes from Wilpena Pound. We were lucky enough to be the only ones here on our first night so we were able to choose the best campsite, high on a ridgeline with fantastic views across the ranges. Quite a difficult track into the campsite but managed to get the van in due to it's high clearance. Every evening was spent around the choofer watching the sun setting over the ranges. This one would have to be one of the best spots we've had on the trip so far!

    Spent many hours 4 wheel driving through Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges where we stopped to inspect ruins of old abandoned station houses, graves, lookouts, aboriginal etchings, springs etc. We really liked Hans Heysen's old hut that overlooked the beautiful ranges that now bear his name.

    We also walked to the old Hills Homestead inside Wilpena Pound and continued up to Wangara lookout which offered fantastic views across the pound.

    Fantastic weather while we were here although very cold at got down as low as 1.8°
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  • Day157

    Stayed 2 nights at Alford on the Yorke Peninsula. Great free camp with toilets, water, dump point, and beautifully maintained by local residents. Unfortunately all commercial enterprise has closed in Alford and many are for sale including the pub and the church.

    Used this as a base to visit towns in the "Copper Triangle" including Kadina, Wallaroo and Moonta. Also checked out the beaut little fishing village of Port Broughton.Read more

  • Day155

    Stayed 2 nights at a free camp at Blyth Sports Ground, about 15 minutes west of Clare. No facilities apart from a dump point, but walking distance to town and we had the place to ourselves so very quiet.

    Loved the (not for profit) Sevenhill Winery. This was the first winery established in the Clare Valley by the Jesuits in 1851 to produce sacramental wine. Fantastic history associated with this winery, including St. Aloysius Church with the only crypt below an Australian parish church - the final resting place for 41 Jesuits, and the College building which was the first Catholic Secondary School in South Australia. Mary MacKillop lived in a cottage on the property for a couple of years whilst two of her brothers attended the college and Jesuit training.Read more

  • Day151

    Loved the Barossa! Stayed 5 nights at Greenock Centenary Park $5 pn. Top spot adjacent to a beaut cricket ground under huge pine trees. Had to get the Genny out eventually as the trees provided so much shade the solar panels couldn't catch any sun.

    Checked out the Whispering Wall, a 140m arch dam that has incredible acoustic properties. Marg and I could have normal volume conversations from one end to the other which we captured on video to great effect. Called in to Maggie Beer's Farm Shop where Marg stocked up on Quince paste, Cabernet paste and Dukkah which proved to be a great accompaniment to the many bottles of Barossa Shiraz we sampled in the region.

    Visited heaps of wineries in the area and thankfully the liver survived the onslaught! Chateau Tanunda is known as the biggest and oldest in the Barossa and it didn't disappoint...although the wine itself was a bit ordinary. Loved Seppeltsfield, Rockford, Murray Street, Peter Lehmann, Jacobs Creek and a small wine producer called JB Winery.

    Bloody cold! 5-18°
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  • Day147

    Just spent the one day in Adelaide from our camp at the Adelaide Hills. Only a 45 minute drive down the hill and used a Park and Ride to catch the free tram around the city.

    We visited Rundle Mall and it's associated lanes, Adelaide Oval, St Peter's Cathedral, and did the Popeye cruise along the Torrens river. We then drove out to Glenelg and checked out the beach, jetty and shops.

  • Day146

    Stayed 5 nights at a Dairy Farm high in the Adelaide Hills. The owner, who travelled Australia for a year with his 7 kids, allows Grey Nomads to stay on his property for $6 per night! We had the place to ourselves and used it as a base to explore the area, including Adelaide.

    We are lucky to be visiting the area in Autumn so the Maple trees are all turning yellow and red, and losing their leaves which is awesome to see. We loved Hahndorf, Stirling, Mt Barker, Woodside, Aldgate, and Mt Lofty to name a few. We picked one winery to visit in the area and it was Bird in Hand Winery, which was recommended by a local.

    Not as cold as it could have been...11-24°
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