Friday, January 30, 2009

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley - 27th Jan to 30th Jan 2009

Hunter Valley Purchases
Hunter Valley New South Wales Australia
From Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is 2 hours North of Sydney, but inland. It is a very pretty and well kept area with over 150 vineyards and wineries. With Heidi’s stiff neck and the tent being wet and caked in mud we decided to check the WOTIF website to see if there were any deals on a real bed for the night. We found a self contained apartment for half price and decided to go for this. A little over our budget but well worth it considering our current plight! The Leisure Inn Pokolbin Hill turned out to be just what we needed. It is right in the heart of wine country with 3 vineyards in walking distance, a pool, spa in the room and a view to die for – gonna be hard to leave!

Whilst here we have been to 4 Wineries and done some tasting also some spending too! The best we went to was McGuigan’s, this place was friendly, informative and had a cheese factory built in! Yum! We spent a little time here tasting wine and cheese. Heidi settled on a Gerwurtz Traminer (White) and some Ash Brie and Carl a Cab Shiraz (Red) and an Irish Mature Cheddar. We then drove carefully off to Tyrell’s winery – one of the oldest here in the valley – for a wine tour. It was very interesting and showed wine making to be not as complicated as we thought. Home we went with our purchases and indulged.
The next day was 2 more Wineries Lindeman’s and Rosemount Estate. We bought another couple of bottles more careful driving (all the tasting you see) and headed back for a dip in the pool and a Steak on the BBQ. It’s 37 degrees! We did try to go to Wyndam Estate (Carl’s favourite Shiraz) but they only open cellar door on weekends – no good to us as we are off in the morning and it is Thursday .

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sydney - 24th Jan to 27th Jan 2009

During our brief stay in Sydney we travelled to Botany Bay and visited the place that Captain Cook first landed in Australia back in 1770. We found out that when Cptn Cook later claimed the land for England in 1788, he did so just a few days before a french guy claimed it for France. Phew! Don’t think this place would be quite so appealing if it were full of frenchies!!

Port Jackson was our next spot on the tour of Sydney; this is where the calm of Sydney Harbour meets the open Pacific Ocean. We had a walk around after spending 30 mins looking for a parking spot – Nightmare!

Sydney Side Street
Sydney New South Wales Australia
From Sydney

We then drove through Bronte and Bondi, wanting to stop but never finding a spot to park. This place is so busy! We finally stopped for lunch at an awesome spot over looking the Harbour Bridge and Opera house. It was a long way off but looked so good! Imagine New Year’s would look great from up here. Heidi had woken up with a very painful stiff neck in the morning so I had to do all of the driving in Sydney – not a pleasant experience (Thank god for the Sat Nav – Purchased with the Koenig’s Xmas pressie money – Thanks Guys!).
The next day was Australia Day and we had planned to go into the city and watch the celebrations, but unfortunately due to Heidi being in so much pain with her neck we spent the day wandering around Manly beach and then just had a relaxing night back at the camp ground with some wine and cheese reading up on the Hunter Valley. This turned out be fine with us because it just rained all night and into the morning.

The next day packing up was a nightmare – the rain made everything sopping and we couldn’t pack the car properly. Carl rigged up a tarp over the back of the car coming off the roof rack and that gave us the space we needed to pack it up. 4 hours later still with no breakfast inside us, wet and 1 hour late for check out we had finished. The tent was in a bin liner covered in dirt and if we weren’t laughing so much about the disaster we would have been crying!! Off to the showers we went, man that felt so good! Then to MacDonald’s! Before the drive to the Hunter Valley (Wine Country).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our first week away

Brisbane to Sydney Our first week away - 19th January – 24th January 2009

Well we made it to Sydney for our Campsite booking of 24th Jan (Australia Day long weekend) with out too much drama. We finally got going on Monday 4 hours after we planned after re-packing the car and saying good bye. It didn’t take too long for something to go wrong as when we got to the garage to fill up and check the tyres, Heidi managed to trip over the kerb and bruise her wrist. Great start!!

Our first stop was Byron Bay for a trip to the Easterly most point of the Australian main land (We plan to do all 4 points of the compass). Seemed a nice little place – a shame we couldn’t stay a bit longer.

Byron Bay Lighthouse
Byron Bay Lighthouse New South Wales Australia
From Brisbane to Sydney

Our first night was spent in Ballina on a lovely little campsite. It was our first night in the roof top tent, which I must say was very comfortable. In the morning we headed off for Coffs Harbour to see the family. 75kms out from the Ballina campsite (an hour) Carl suddenly realised that we had left all of our ice packs in the freezer at the campsite. After a bit of a debate we decided to head back to Ballina to pick them up, still deciding if the 2 hour trip to get back to where we were was worth while?!!

On the way back to the camp site we heard a noise up on the roof that sounded like a stone, then a noise on the road that sounded metallic (good job the windows were open!). Carl stopped the car 50m up the road and went back up the road (the relatively busy Pacific Highway through Broadwater) to look for the source of the noise. He found a large shiny bolt that looked too new to have been there long!
We investigated the roof rack and its contents, undoing and checking the tent in the 30C heat on the side of the road, everything appeared to be normal. So we carried on to rescue the ice packs. Almost at the camp site Carl realised that the bolt may have come from the new Hi-lift Jack that we had bought. Upon checking the jack sure enough the head piece that lifts the car was loose. Amazing that it hadn’t fallen off, even more amazing though was that the nut the that went with the bolt was still sat on the hole where the bolt should have been!! We were very lucky.

When we finally arrived in Coramba (2 hours late) it was nice to be spoiled at Nick and Jackie’s for the night, We had dinner at the Coramba Hotel (a nice little country pub). We had time to catch up with a chat and when back at their place to learn to tie the truckies knot!! (thanks again).

Gloucester Bird
Gloucester New South Wales Australia
From Brisbane to Sydney

We then continued south looking for a nice spot to stop for another “over-nighter”. We saw a National Park at Crowdy Bay. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of the park as we had to get going the next day to Barrington Tops National Park. We did get our first taste of cold showers and ‘pit toilets’ however!! (For those that don’t know what a ‘pit toilet’ is, It has no water and is basically a toilet shaped seat over a large hole in the ground. The idea is that the errr... ‘waste’ shall we call it composts down over time therefore no plumbing is required. As you can imagine though the smell and the flies are not very pleasant!!

Barrington tops is inland a bit near Gloucester and Stroud - this we found highly amusing and even more so as we drove into Gloucestershire!! Here we found a very cheap camping spot on somebodies property at the bottom of the hills with riverside camping. A great place with basic toilets and a warm shower (not bad just lots of spiders!) and we got a good spot overlooking the river. It was perfect apart from the constant buzz of the flies – something we will be getting used to I believe.
We stayed a couple of nights here and it was nice to settle, I (Heidi) managed to get my finger pinched in the table which hurt so much I felt like I had chopped it off! The pain almost caused me to faint which was a very scary experience for Carl! So I’m doing well with the injuries!

Barrington Tops National Park
Barrington Tops National Park New South Wales Australia
From Brisbane to Sydney

We headed up into the rain forest which was some nice relief from the hot weather, but the car was having a bit of trouble starting so headed back to Gloucester to get a mechanic to check it out. He couldn’t find anything wrong and thought we may have been just flooding the engine and all seems ok now. (glad to be in Sydney just in case tho, the RACQ may be coming in handy!!). We had a couple of very hot days camping but the nights were cool so easy to sleep. Carl went to war with a can of bug killer on the flies – not that it made any difference but he was happy.

We headed to Sydney and took our time getting there as it was so so hot and both of us were glad to be in the air con. Apparently the temp was 38C and the wind was so warm it was horrid. We are on a full facility camp site whilst in Sydney and glad of the power (everything is on charge!) The showers are very clean and posh – look like they have no place on a campsite! We have set up camp for the next 3 nights and glad to have some space in the car.

So today we are off to explore a bit of Sydney we haven’t seen before, making full use of having our own transport and it is a lot cooler today, the forecast is about 25C, so it will be nice to do a bit of walking. It is Australia Day long weekend so we will be enjoying the celebrations at some point over the weekend.

Well our first week has been fun, hot, sweaty, hard work, trying, constantly full of setting up and packing away, but we have thoroughly enjoyed the starry nights, gorgeous mornings, wildlife, scenery and just being together. Next week we head to Hunter Valley for wine and cheese tasting!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year New Places

We leave on 19th Jan…. woohoo Australia here we come!!!

Well it is a few days before we head off into the unknown so thought it about time I started updating our blog (I’ve been told it is a little light!!). Over the last few months we have been busy preparing, buying and saving. Our little truck looks a bit different and we have the roof top tent on it too now. All is coming along well. I finished work last Friday and it is Carl’s last day today, so I have been busy this week sorting stuff out, packing, being bored, charging, orgainising, sun baking, and being bored somemore!! We now have a lounge full of stuff to fit in the car and I’m still trying to work out how to fit in all my clothes, maybe I can pinch some room in Carl’s bag ;). So anyway here are some trip prep pics

4x4 Modification

Removing the back seats

Rooftop Tent

Rooftop Tent

Home from home

4x4 Driver Training
A little bit of training..

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