The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

18 January, 2017

Yorke Peninsula

We had coffee before leaving from Auburn as needed to try the new coffee machine purchased for my birthday! Worked a treat! Drove to Pt Wakefield and arrived around lunch time just had to visit the Bakery for a curry pie. Travelled through Maitland and onto Dave & Shelly's property before Balgowan and set up in bush camp with short drop toilet (due to limestone close to top soil!), and a great outdoor shower over an old bath. Nice and quiet as only ones there apart from the very, very friendly flies.

Mallee Bush Camp with outdoor shower

One of the old trucks, great photo opportunity

Next day we drove to Balgowan to stay with Naomi & Kevin where we parked the van on the footpath.  The next day we hopped into their 60 series Toyota and drove through tracks to Cape Elizabeth, followed by pub lunch at Moonta then Icecream & Coffee at Gelati Cafe (a must to visit!!).

Camped outside on the footpath

Balgowan across the bay

Stopped at an old building on our beach drive to Elizabeth Point

After a wonderful stay - huge thanks to Naomi & Kevin for their hospitality, we left and headed to Maitland, then across to Ardrossan for lunch another Bakery! Stopped into Pt Vincent before arriving in Stansbury and catching up with good friends for a few hours in the afternoon.  The Caravan parks were full (as we anticipated at this time of the year), so drove to Yorketown where we stayed at a nice quiet Park for 2 nights.
Port Vincent
Drove back to Stansbury next day to visit the Markets then in afternoon drove to Point Turton to visit a lady Helen used to work with in Adelaide.  Helen and Brenda had a great catch up then it was back to Yorketown for dinner at the York Pub (great meal).

Once again a leisurely departure before taking a scenic drive to Marion Bay via Corny Point, where we had lunch at a picnic spot overlooking the sea.  Arrived late afternoon to Marion Bay where we pulled into John & Gayle's driveway, staying for two nights.  Went for a walk around the streets and over the headland to the beach - sighted a couple of dolphins which made Helen's day.

Stenhouse Bay jetty
Cape Spencer light house

Over looking the Ethel wreck, you can just see the boiler remains on the beach.

Some of the dolphines

Next day we drove to Innes National Park stopping at Stenhouse Bay for a walk along the jetty, drove passed Chinamen's Hat, stopping at Cape Spencer where we walked up to lighthouse and took in the fantastic scenery. Next it was Ethel Beach to view the wreck which was more exposed than when we were there 30 odd years ago, West Cape, Pondalowie beach, then walked along the boardwalk to Pondalowie Surf Break where we were entertained by a pod of dolphins. The Scenery along this coast is fantastic and with the brilliant green colour of the sea completed a picturesque drive. From here we headed back again calling into Inneston Historic Township but did not walk all around as the weather was very hot and the march flies were particularly nasty biting everyone except Gayle!  Back to Marion Bay where we had a great feed of locally caught whiting.  Thank you Gayle & John for your wonderful hospitality - we had a great time!

Port Rickaby jetty damaged from the storms
Time to head off - we drove back to Warooka to the dump point, then onto Minlaton for lunch, temperature 40 degrees!  Drove out to Port Rickaby where we set up at the Caravan Park for the night.  Had a swim which refreshed us - looking forward to the expected cool change later in the evening.  Very windy - Helen nagged to get the awning down early and glad we did as wind became very strong and most people in the park finished up pulling their awnings down.
Port Victoria jetty, also damaged from the storms
Artherton Bike Lane

Much cooler in the morning but still windy which made it interesting towing the van and didn't help the fuel consumption.  Called into Port Victoria for a look then onto Maitland and Arthurton, arriving in Kadina at lunchtime (handy again as they have a nice Bakery!).  Temperature again was 41 degrees so decided to stay at Kadina Caravan Park and put air conditioner on!  Later in afternoon I rode around the town on the bike, checking out the sites!  From Kadina we called into Wallaroo for a look around then stopped at Port Broughton for coffee - nice spot overlooking the jetty with plenty of people heading down for fishing.  Continued onto Port Pirie where we stayed in Pt Pirie Beach Caravan Park - arriving in 42 degree heat!  Stocked up with shopping before heading to Ursula & Michael's for tea - great to catch up with Tyson, Lu and baby Ted for a short time.  After a lovely meal, many laughs and a few reds and whisky Hels drove back to Caravan Park in steamy weather as rain had come but did not cool things down.  In the morning rain continued which did drop the temperature but decided to stay another day - Helen seems to think it was because I was a bit sluggish in the morning!!

28 December, 2016


On Boxing Day packed up and left Adelaide heading to Auburn to House sit for a couple of weeks - the car was loaded down with all that we had eaten and drunk since arriving in Adelaide!  Briony had a few days off so she came with us - had to stop at Bunnings on the way as I was eager to spend my Christmas money and brought a Ryobi drill and impact driver.  On this occasion we stayed in the house because we could not bring the Caravan in the drive as guests were staying in the B&B. On arrival the rain had started so had to do a lot of running in and out to bring our food etc into the house.

Auburn house sit, just mowed the lawn.
Made acquaintances with the cat (Timmy Tiger) and chickens (Black-beauty & Henrietta) and settled into the home.  That night a huge storm came through - I slept through but Helen could not sleep due to the noise of the wind.  In the morning she was surprised to see little damage as she imagined all the trees to be blown down & chickens flying around in the wind!!  The following day when we drove Briony back to Adelaide we noticed a lot of debris on the road as we detoured via Balaklava and Mallala as the Rhynie road was closed due to large pine trees across the road.

Mike and myself after sampling at the Old Bastard winery Clare
Friends Mike and Joy came up and we visited a few wineries before celebrating the New Year (it was a bit of a struggle to stay awake after our tastings!!).  We thoroughly enjoyed our House sit as the township of Auburn is very pretty and ideal for exploring the Clare Valley.  I was able to ride the bike every morning along the Riesling Trail and as the weather warmed up we enjoyed having a pool.

Our site at the Auburn Recreation Caravan Park
Michael & Kathy came back after having a great holiday and we moved to the Auburn Caravan Park for a couple of days.  Drove down to Adelaide to celebrate my birthday with Briony, having a great lunch at the Kentish Hotel followed by icecream at St Louis in North Adelaide.

20 December, 2016

Adelaide for Christmas

After completing my Santa training it was now time to work! For 2 weeks I worked in Santa's Wonderland @ Wayville in Adelaide and most days completed a 10 hour day!  The centre was great for the kids - certainly enjoyed the joy that kids get from seeing Santa.  Each day I came home with letters and gifts including a little girl's dummy that she handed over to Santa!!!  By the end of the 2 weeks I was exhausted but happy to be part of the Christmas festivities.  Was also called upon to step into the Santa role at the Brickworks Shopping Centre where I walked around the centre meeting the kids and having photos taken. At the end of my working stint I am very relieved that Santa only comes once a year!

Inside Santa's Wonderland @ Wayville

It's all good for Santa!
During the build up to Christmas we celebrated many times with family and friends - so wonderful to catch up with people and be amazed how the little nephew and neices are now parents of kids in their early twenties and late teens!!! Was also special to have Briony home to join in our Christmas celebrations and we thank everyone for their hospitality - we had a terrific time.

A wonderful Christmas Lunch hosted by David & Carol

Our Cactus cock Dinner - 'old' friends getting together for over 40 years

Geoff with sister Barbara & brother Colin

17 November, 2016

Back in SA

Sunrise @ Burra Gorge

Departed 8.15am from Broken Hill so the workers could set up for the Rock Concert.  Travelled down the Barrier Highway with a very strong side/tail wind, calling into Terowie where we did a drive around the town.  Had a look at the free camp but it was a bit hot and way too early to set up so continued on.

Drove onto Burra Gorge (Worlds End) where we found a nice spot, but my hay fever was causing me grief and camping in an area of crops and dry grasses did not help.  Went for a walk down to the water hole where I went for a very refreshing swim - Helen wimped out saying it was too cold!!

Our camp site @ Burra Gorge

Refreshing swim at water hole in Burra Gorge
 Only stayed one night - drove back into Burra then onto Clare where we stocked up with supplies before staying at Auburn in the Caravan Park looked after by Eric and Helen.  We have stayed here before and found it a nice spot with very friendly hosts - great Happy Hour every night!! Was able to get the bike out and go for rides in the morning along the Riesling Trail and the Rattler Trail. The Riesling Trail goes from Auburn to Barinia (33kms) and has storyboards with information on the local history, the landscape, the Ngadjuri people, the communities and local heros. The scenery includes views of vineyards, bushland, farms, historical buildings and tree lined lanes. The Rattler Trail goes from Auburn to Riverton (19kms) - the trail takes its name from the rattling old train that used to work the route.  Thoroughly enjoyed my rides although only rode for an hour return so did not complete the full trails.  We also caught up with Rosemary, who Helen grew up with and now owns the local Coffee Shop - Mellers (great coffee & scones!!).  Also visited property we will be house sitting early next year and are looking forward to returning to Auburn.

Some of the Art sculptures on the Nuriootpa to Anguston bike track

Whilst staying at Auburn we had a trip to Adelaide to deliver boxes to Briony who is living in North Adelaide.  Had a great catch up which included lunch and a grocery shop - she was able to stock up as we had the car.  After delivering her and her groceries home we drove back to Auburn where we spent a couple more days before heading to the Barossa for the 4WD Club 30 year reunion.  Had a wonderful week end meeting new members and reminiscing memorable trips with 'old' members!

Upon leaving Nuriootpa we went to Inglewood to pick up bed base for Briony, delivered bed to Briony's place in North Adelaide, then off to Mount Compass to spend a couple of days with Helen's sister Glenda (all this done dragging the Whale behind the car!!).  Having a good catch up with Glenda and some of her family, we travelled to Pt Willunga where we stayed for 3 nights - just having a few rest days.  Celebrated our 42nd Wedding Anniversary with lunch at Star of Greece, having a lovely meal and glass of wine.

Departed Pt Willunga ((needed to drag jumpers and jeans out due to cold weather!!) and drove to Brownhill Creek Caravan Park where we stayed another 3 days.  To our surprise we were camped next to our old Parado which we sold approx 11 years ago!  The owners had just sold it and were waiting for new owners to pick up. Had a great catch up with close friends Mike & Joy @ Coromandel Valley before travelling onto Levi Caravan Park where we stayed until Boxing Day.
Brownhill Creek Tourist Park - one of the local Koalas

Port Willunga

15 November, 2016

Wilcannia, White Cliffs to Broken Hill

View from Wilcannia Caravan Park down Darling River to town bridge

Continued travelling on the Barrier Highway and endured quite a strong head wind - not good fuel economy!  Stayed at Wilcannia Camp Ground which great right by the Darling River and with recent rains the River was quite high.  In the 1980s Wilcannia was Australia's third-largest inland port town. From 1859, the river was plied by paddle steamers, which travelled as far up as Bourke. In the past we have only fuelled up in Wilcannia and got out quick however now they are trying to encourage travellers to stop and experience the history of the town including the architecturally impressive buildings made of local sandstone.  There is a great coffee shop called Miss Barretts which is worth a visit and we also had an enjoyable Chinese meal at the Golf Club. The Caravan Park is clean and tidy and looked after well by new onsite Caretakers.

Wilcania Caravan Park on the banks of the Darling, which was flooding into the camp area.

Watched the super moon come up over the trees from the camp ground.

The Darling River - highest we have ever seen

Great Coffee Shop @ Wilcannia - well worth calling in

Drove out to White Cliffs which is a pioneering town born through the discovery of opal in the 1890s and whilst the days of great prosperity have passed, there are quite a few people who still live there. There are approx  135 dugout homes in White Cliffs - with summer temperatures soaring to more than 50 degrees Celsius, underground homes experience a constant 23 degrees Celsius.  We picked up a Heritage Map and drove around the town, which did not take long!  Stopped at the Underground Motel which has been in operation for more than 20 years and took a look at their Historical Museum which is worth a visit.  Wanted to see some opals however many of the larger tourist centres had closed for the season, Found Aussie Southern Cross Opals was open and we were entertained by Richard in his dugout.  His presentation included a video and his passion for the area was evident in his stories.  Sighted a few opals - one of which he let us hold to view the colours however when he told us the value, we put it back in the box quick - it was worth over $30,000!!!  Back in Wilcannia we joined Jim (whom we met in Cobar) and shared a Chinese meal at the Golf Club which was delicious, then retired back to the Park to sit and watch the rising of a Super Moon.   We persevered even though the mozzies were very aggressive that night, and saw a magnificent moon.

General Store in White Cliffs

White Cliffs from the look out

Sunning on the main street - we had to drive around as he was not going to move!

On our drive around town tour

History and Culture Centre in White Cliffs Underground Motel

From Wilcannia we travelled to Broken Hill where we stayed at the Racecourse, which is a great spot with green lawn!!  Were able to stay for 2 nights as they were setting up for a Rock Concert on the weekend and the camping area would be closed so they could set up.  Did a bit of shopping however did not buy too much as we were going into SA and had to go through Quarantine checks. Had a day in town with first stop the Visitors Centre where we got a town map which helped us on the Heritage walk.  We found this walk really interesting with so many buildings still standing strong - some being built in 1800s.  Also visited the Art Gallery however they were in between exhibits so not a lot of paintings to look at.  As we have visited Broken Hill before we have seen many of the highlights, so was happy to move on after a couple of days.  Also said goodbye to Jim as he was going in a different direction to us.

On our walking Town Tour of Broken Hill - The Palace Hotel in background

Trades Hall, Broken Hill

Second night viewing of Super Moon

31 October, 2016

Gin Gin - Gold Coast across NSW

After leaving Yepoon we called into Rockhampton to empty the 'shitter' and fill up with water before travelling to Gin Gin and setting up camp at Greg & Debs (approx 20kms east).  Upon arrival we were met with burnt out countryside as a big fire earlier in the week had burnt up close to their home. Quite a bit of smoke and when Greg & Deb got the OK they back burned at night while the wind had dropped off.  Another day of smoke and when wind blew up and a few spot fires flared up Helen was ready to pack up and leave. I had a chat with Greg who explained the situation and in particular pointed out that the trees here are different to the ones down south ie they do not explode in a fire.  I decided it was safe to stay but Helen had already nearly packed up - consequently I was blessed with a few hours of quiet while Helen stewed!!

Greg & Debs camp kitchen

Gas hot water shower run by a solar pump

However the smoke cleared and we were invited up to the house to watch the Melbourne Cup - had a good afternoon but did not get the winning horses as Deb cleaned up with 1st 2nd & 3rd!!! Had some showers of rain which cooled things down and helped distinguish the fire and with an early evening thunderstorm the air was a lot fresher.

Greg feeding the pig sweet potato

Greg & Deb's Dorper Sheep

Fire down by the creek, unfortunately a couple of the trees fell down over the creek.

The fire continued for days ...... and of course the smoke!

From Greg & Debs it was back onto the Bruce Highway with heaps of cars and trucks - we were going to head inland and take the back roads but decided it was quicker to endure the Highway. Stopped for lunch at a park in Gympie and noticed a Windscreen Repair van - the guy had stopped for lunch but was happy to repair a chip for us! Continued onto Beerwah where we stayed at the Sports Ground.

Friendly kookaburra keeping a watchful eye on our camp at Greg & Debs

Drove onto Maudsland where we pulled into Wayne & Susan's (Tenelle's parents) property and had a great grassed site right next to the pool and spa!!!  Said we were so well set up we may not leave!

Great camp spot in the back yard - coffee, bar and spa at our door step/

Had a day visiting friends and meeting baby Abe and called into Helen's neice Julie to collect Briony's boxes she had stored.  So now we had quite a bit of extra weight to distribute in the car and caravan.  After having a fantastic few days with Wayne & Susan we reluctantly packed up and after taking the stands of the van down, noticed a punctured tyre where a nail had gone through. Wayne got his jack out and it was fixed quickly - so lucky to have it happen there instead of out on the highway somewhere.
A few 'hazards' to watch out for @ the pool in Kooralbyn

Headed up to Kooralbyn and spent the night with Leon and Sandy - spent a lot of time in the pool as the temperature was quite hot.  From here we travelled back to Beaudesert and drove on the Cunningham Highway up over the range through Boonah then turned onto the New England Highway to Warwick.  Lunched at Lake Coolmunda which was a nice spot although quite a hot day and plenty of flies!  Stayed at Yelarbon Recreation Gounds which is a nice spot for an overnighter with lovely gardens maintained by volunteers.  Next morning it was already 29 degrees by the time we departed at 8.30am.  Fuelled up at Goondiwindi before battling with millions of trucks on the Newell Highway.  Pulled into Moree and stayed in Mehi River Caravan Park and with the van temperature at 37 degrees, put the aircon on for some relief.  A storm blew in but no rain or thunder. Decided to stay another day as weather was cooler - Helen had a haircut and I had an artesian bath. Afternoon brought thunderstorms and rain which was most welcomed.

Moore artesian baths, I took a "refreshing" dip into the 37 degree water

Picked up repaired tyre and took Gwydir Highway heading to Walgett where we were going to free camp however I was not happy to stay there.  Continued on Castlereagh Highway to Coonamble where we stayed at the Show Grounds which is a nice spot with power/water and toilets for a gold coin donation.  Stayed an extra day and checked out the main street, particularly all the murals of local characters which form part of their Hall of Fame.  Another hot day with the van recording 42 degrees - out to the Bowls Club for dinner and people watching!!

Lake Coolmunda, our lunch spot adjacent to the camping area.

Yelarbon Recreation camp ground, great overnight spot.
Coonamble pub

The main road thru town passes the pub at the end of the main street

Some of the art work of local characters in Coonamble

From Coonamble our next stop was Warren where we called into their local Fete.  Travelled down Oxley Highway to Nevertire then onto Mitchell Highway, had lunch at Nyngan before turning off onto Barrier Highway to Cobar.  Was continually being passed by a Police Patrol car who was catching quite a few vehicles speeding.  Free camped at Cobar by the Lake.