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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  • 3 nights free camping at Haddon Lions Park, about 15 minutes outside Ballarat. Great spot with toilets, potable water and only about 3 vans.

    Because we did the Gold Mine tour in Bendigo, we decided to skip Sovereign Hill. Reviews seemed to indicate it was overpriced and dated so we were happy to save our money. We walked the heritage streetscape of Lydiard Street, visited the Eureka Stockade Museum, Lake Wendouree, Botanical Gardens, War Memorial, Arch of Victory and Mill Markets. I enjoyed the Eureka Stockade Museum and got a good photo of what's left of the actual Eureka Flag that is on display. The flag is huge...about 4x3m. Lots of missing bits as they were cut up and given as souvenirs.

    Getting colder still...5 - 27°
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  • Took the scenic route from Bendigo through some beautiful towns such as Maldon, Maryborough, Avoca and Ararat. Maldon especially was very appealing with a very well preserved historic streetscape.

    Stayed 3 nights at Old Man Emu Farm Stay at Halls Gap. $15 pn with very few neighbours and on the banks of a small dam. Kangaroos, sheep and emus were constant visitors during our stay.

    Spent a couple of days driving and hiking various trails through the Grampians. We visited Boroka lookout, The Balconies, Mckenzies Falls, Lake Bellfield, Halls Gap, Stawell and more. I was mad enough to venture out onto the rock ledge at Boroka lookout for the "signature" Grampians photo. After watching several backpackers dangle their feet over the edge of the "Jaws of Death" rock formation, I even shuffled half way out on that too!

    A beautiful part of the world...temperatures 14-29°
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  • 2 nights free camping at Sebastian Recreation Ground - 15 mins north of Bendigo. Good spot with afternoon shade, toilets and potable water. Morning and afternoon horse trots were training behind us.

    Really enjoyed the Talking Trams which run non-stop tours around central Bendigo. On the first day we were the only passengers, so the conductor gave us a personalised tour of Bendigo and also the tram maintenance depot.

    Decided to do the Central Deborah Gold Mine tour. This tour is an authentic experience compared to the Ballarat mines apparently. The mine closed in 1954 and was one of over 5000 gold mines in Bendigo. We descended 61 metres in hard hats and miner's lamps and got to see mining equipment in operation. We panned for gold to no avail but had a great day.

    Starting to get cooler now...13-26°
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  • Wow - what a spot! Stayed 2 nights at Lake Boga right on the waters edge, about 10 minutes from Swan Hill. A very entertaining stay - we were treated to a bushfire which unfortunately claimed a fire truck on the first night, then a big dust storm on the second night.

    Lake Boga played a part in WW2 as it was chosen as a top secret repair depot for the flying boats (Catalinas etc) after the bombing of Darwin. We loved the Flying Boat Museum and spent a couple of hours pouring over the exhibits. The original communications bunker is still inplace and has been wonderfully restored.

    Saw the sights of Swan Hill including the Burke and Wills Tree, Pioneer Settlement and Heartbeat of The Murray laser show.

    We still can't get over how dry and brown the landscape is. There is hardly any grass and lots of bindis and tumbleweeds.
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  • Stayed 3 nights at Rotary Park ($5 donation). Great spot on the banks of the river with afternoon shade.

    Did a cruise on paddlesteamer PS Emmylou along the Murray accompanied by a couple of Sav Blancs...very pleasant! Visited the National Holden Museum, Port of Echuca and The Great Aussie Beer Shed which was fantastic!

    Warm during the day but cool at night. 16-32°

  • Overnight at a fantastic free camp on the Murray, complete with our own sandy beach. We both had a swim and Marg was so relaxed she fell asleep in the pool hammock and floated downstream! Unfortunately the neighbours woke and returned her...lol

  • Free overnight at Brown Brothers Winery. Spent the afternoon at the Cellar Door taking in the wine tasting, followed by a grazing plate and a beaut Pinot Grigio at the wine bar. Left with a box of wine, and had a great day.

  • Travelled over the Great Alpine Road through Omeo, Mt Hotham, Bright, and Myrtleford to arrive at our beautiful farmstay near Beechworth. Set high in the hills this property has amazing views over the Victorian Alps.

    This is Ned Kelly country and they sure milk it for all it's worth...there's statues, museums and souvenir shops everywhere! It's beautiful country but very dry and brown so bushfires are a constant threat.

    We checked out the Bright and Myrtleford Festivals, Beechworth, Glenrowen, Milawa, Rutherglen, Albury Wodonga, Hume Dam, Yackandandah and more. We had a ball at the Bright Festival and stayed for the concert seeing Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows, Mental as Anything etc.
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  • Passed through Mt Hotham, Dinner Plains etc on The Great Alpine Road. Interesting to see the ski resorts in Autumn. Quite an eerie feeling as we drove past empty resorts and houses, and lots of dead trees in the area apparently a result of bush fires in 2003.

    Spent a day driving up to Mt Buffalo where the once beautiful chalet sadly lies in a state of disrepair. Funding has been granted and work has started to bring it back to it's former glory.Read more

  • 10 days at Lakes Entrance at only our 2nd caravan park of the trip so far. I won this on a Travel Auction for $17 per night so very cheap. We're right across the road from the lakes and 90 mile beach.

    Lakes Entrance is a lot quieter and less populated than we imagined...and we managed to relax a lot more than we have to date.

    Ian, Jane and Cherie visited us and stayed overnight in our caravan park which was great. We all did a lakes cruise and dinner at the club.

    We visited Buchan Caves, Metung, Bairnsdale, Paynesville and took the ferry over to Raymond Island to see the koalas...another bucket list item checked off the list!

    Beautiful weather, although a little cool somedays. 11-26°
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  • Another beautiful Farm stay. Stayed 6 nights with Rob & Marie at their beautiful 70 acre property on the Narooma Inlet. Had a great stay and really got on well with the hosts. Enjoyed quad biking around the property and were lucky enough to be invited to dinner at their place. Oysters are a big industry in Narooma, and I had plenty! Couldn't believe I could walk to the bottom of the property and eat fresh oysters off the rocks.

    Loved the NSW South Coast. The beaches have the most clear, blue water and the whitest sands we've encountered so far on our trip. Narooma is considered to have a very temperate climate...not too hot or cold, so a lot of retirement villages are being built in the area.

    We visited Batemans Bay, Mogo, Moruya, Bodalla, Mystery Bay, Central Tilba, Cobargo, Bermagui, Bega and Tathra. Had a great afternoon with Chris and Valmae our neighbours from Cairns who were visiting their son at Bermagui.

    Marg loved the seals that congregated on the rocks at the entrance to the harbour at Narooma. We had to visit them every afternoon on the way back to the farm!
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  • Stayed 4 nights at Woodenhead Farm at Jerrawangala. Fantastic place right on the Princess Highway and only about 30 minutes to all the beaches and villages of Jervis Bay. The owners only allow 1 camper at a time, and have a cleared area high above their house surrounded by trees where we had total privacy.

    We visited Nowra where we browsed through some caravans (dreaming), then explored Currawong, Callala, Huskisson, Vincentia and Hyams Beach. We tried to get into Perpendicular Point, but there were exercises on so it was closed.

    We also checked out Ulladulla, Mollymook, Milton, Bendalong and Sussex Inlet.

    Jervis Bay is a very large, beautiful bay and we especially loved Huskisson and Hyams Beach where Marg had a swim. Hyams Beach has the whitest sand in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records! We also loved Sussex Inlet which is on the western side of the inlet that divides NSW and Jervis Bay Territory.
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