The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

25 December, 2017

Christmas - New Year

Well my work as Santa certainly provided some entertainment and long days. Over the six weeks starting early November it started slow and finished very busy with a queue of 30 plus waiting to see Santa at times in the last couple of days. This was the first time I had grown a beard for the job and on the first day I was very apprehensive, as the beard provided which the other Santa used, was much longer.  As it turned out the beard proved to be a hit with many compliments and some preferring a real beard. Whether I grow it again, I don't know!! Helen was very pleased to see my face again when I shaved it off.

Santa and the family photo
We left the Van at Murwillumbah Showgrounds (caretaker on site) and drove to where Briony was house-sitting for a couple of weeks, Mt Tambourine. Was treated to a fabulous home made Chicken Laksa for tea and thoroughly enjoyed the evening with our daughter. Watched Christmas Carols, getting into the spirit of Christmas, although I felt as though I'd been living Christmas for the last 6 weeks!  According to the girls I apparently slept in the chair for quite some time.

One of the more interesting Santa photos
Began Christmas Day with bacon, eggs and champagne breakfast with the kids as Todd and Tennelle drove up to join us.  First family Christmas breakfast for many years and it was great. Had a few issues with the Turkey we were cooking for lunch as first Helen forgot to put it in the oven, then the timer went off which turned the oven off, so when came time to baste the turkey, found the oven had switched itself off!! From breakfast we moved onto Tennelle's family's Christmas Lunch where her parents Wayne and Susan were wonderful hosts, as always.  May I say that the turkey was cooked to perfection!! Afternoon was rather warm so spent time around and in the pool.  Late afternoon Briony drove us back to Mt Tambourine where we consumed the remaining Laksa (although quite full from all the day's food).  That night we were lashed with a severe storm - strong winds, driving rain and plenty of thunder and lightening. Apparently I slept through most of it as in the morning the girls were saying they did not get much sleep due to the noise!  Found a Coffee Shop open nearby and enjoyed time chatting with Briony before we went our separate ways.

Santa's work was done, now to celebrate Christmas Day

Headed back to Murwillumbah and found our Van in one piece as they had also experienced a storm the night before.  That evening we rolled the awning in and more or less had things ready for an early start the next day.

Set off early next morning as wanted to get ahead of the traffic as we headed for Hervey Bay.  Had a great run before stopping at the Burpengary Service Centre for a much needed coffee.  Upon joining the M1 the traffic was very slow going, crawling our way along in places.  Going through Gympie was particularly slow due to traffic lights and kms of one lane roads.  Another major delay was coming into Tiaro where the pedestrian lights banked the traffic up for kms. Finally arrived at Susan River where we stayed for the next 2 weeks - great to catch up with friends here again.

Quite early morning around the camp.

The 9th hole after crossing the lake

Weather was very humid, so the pool was frequently visited!  For the first few days a storm came through late afternoon which reminded us of Darwin weather. New Years Eve was a terrific night and after the rained stopped we were able to sit outside and enjoy a great evening, finally going to bed around 2am! Plenty of music and celebrations were had with a wonderful group of people. During our stay I played golf each morning while Helen joined in the water aerobics.  Enjoyed a few games of darts and finska and had plenty of chats and laughs. Met up with Lynn and Janice for lunch at the Howard Pub and had a great meal.  Also had Sunday dinner at the Sportsman's Club in Maryborough - fish and chips $5.  I celebrated my birthday during our stay and Helen organised a birthday cake for morning tea, and with the blowing out of the candle the group sang Happy Birthday! Unfortunately had not anticipated the number of people so very, very small pieces of cake were handed out!!!  Helen and I went to Goody's On The Beach at Toogoom and had a nice lunch overlooking the sea.

Howard pub for lunch, a great group to catch up with Lyn and Janice.

Goody's On The Beach, Toogoom
Even has a jetty in front of the restaurant to walk out on after lunch.

Our table overlooking the bay at Toogoom, a very pleasant lunch spot!
 2018 also brought a new face back after 6 months. No more explanation needed!!


What do you think of the bikie look?
Gone !!

04 October, 2017

Back on the coast in SE Qld

Set up in Kirra Beach Caravan Park for the long weekend - Todd and Tenelle invited us for dinner where we surprised Briony (for a change), as she had no idea we were headed for the coast.  Great evening and very proud of the work they have done to set up their home.  Went back to Todd's home to watch the Grand Final and decorated the lounge room with Crows coloured streamers, even had some little frankferts and sauce, in readiness for the big game.  What an absolute disappointment - Richmond absolutely thrashed the Adelaide Crows and we were all very peeved off with our teams performance.  Oh well there is always next year!!

Helen so pleased to see Todd, and the new house, well into renos.

Waiting in anticipation for the game to start, key man on screen, the coach and Eddy.

Ready for the game, no photos after, only sad faces.

Had a lovely breakfast next day with Todd and Briony (Tennelle and friends joined us later after a Hens night!).  The next morning we were off early to avoid the long week end traffic and with forecast of thunderstorms thought we would cover some kms before the weather turned nasty.  Rain set in once we hit the M1 and traffic banked up around Bribie Island to Noosa, however traffic was banked up for kms driving the opposite way to us. Stopped in Maryborough for lunch where it was raining and arrived at friend's retreat at Susan River. Had to set up in the rain however timed it right as once we had done our set up it absolutely hammered down with rain.  Area needs rain as all the grass was looking very brown.  Caught up with Neville and Kathy again for a few days.  Had to go into Hervey Bay to buy a microwave as ours stopped working.  Had a great meal at the Maryborough Sportsman's Club - I had hot rock rib eye fillet steak and would have to be the best steak I have ever had. 

Set up in the rain and the ground was covered with 15mm of water. Hanging out the wet cloths

Just a sea of water as the water hose and ground sheet disappeared below the water.

Dinner at the Maryborough Sports Club, I had the most magnificent Rib-eye on a hot plate.

After spending a lovely week catching up with friends we drove to Woolooga and set up at Ray and Carols place for a couple of nights.  Always great to catch up with these guys.  From here we travelled to Noosa Caravan Park at Tewantin and had dinner at the Yacht Club with friend Shirley and partner Marinis. Next morning we were off travelling south towards Brisbane stopping the night at Beachmere Caravan Park, scoring the last available site for our Van.  Because we arrived early, was able to arrange lunch with Heather and John at the Beachmere Tavern where we had a great catch up which ended around 5pm!!

Next stop was at Chinderah Village where we stayed for a week - small park clean and tidy.  Caught up with friends we had met in Darwin (Trevor and Rosie) and Helen was able to get a much needed haircut from Rosie!  During our stay we supported Briony and Todd on an obstacle Challenge in Numinbah Valley - great effort to complete 8km track with 40 obstacles! They ended up very muddy but happy to complete the challenge.  Also visited Briony's home at Burleigh Heads which she shares with 2 others.  A lovely unit surrounded by lush tropical gardens although it poured with rain the whole time.  The remaining days consisted of Specialist visits, Car servicing, shopping etc including a nice lunch with Trevor and Rosie at the Kingscliffe Bowls Club.

Lots of mud to negotiate at times

One of the 40 or so obstacles they had to negotiate.  I thing they liked following the "hot dod" and "dogunut"
Briony developed her own technique for this water crossing.

What a team, made the finish together but not looking as clean as when they started.

Huge excitement with the arrival of Todd and Tennelle's new puppy Dudley, a Hungarian Vizsla. We departed Chinderah and called into meet the new arrival before heading to Beaudesert then onto Kooralbyn to stay with Leon and Sandy for 10 days.  Rained for the first couple of days but cleared up although days were cool.  I had to attend Santa Training at Broadbeach for a day as am booked into Tweed City from 15/11 to 24/12 as Santa. Quite chuffed as they seem happy with the beard I have been growing since June to pay the part.  Helen celebrated her birthday and just happened to be the day Leon fitted a 3 1/2 inch exhaust system on the car.  She keeps telling people she got an exhaust system for her birthday!  We did celebrate with lunch at the Bearded Dragon at Tambourine and was great Briony was able to join us.

Dudley, Todd and Tennelle's fur baby

Near the end of October we stored the van with Leon and drove down to Tugan staying with Todd and Tenelle for a couple of nights.  Attended Abraham's 1st Birthday and caught up with cousins from Adelaide up for the celebration.

Flew out of the Gold Coast Airport for Adelaide for our close friend's sons Wedding.  Decided to spend a week in Adelaide so hired a car and headed to Mt Compass for a couple of nights with Helen's sister, Glenda. Had a day driving around Victor Harbour, Pt Elliott, Middleton and onto Goolwa for nice lunch on the Wharf.  Called into Pt Elliott Bakery for a sugar fix of iconic SA sweets!  Had a great night staying with friends Ros and Phil before driving up to Tea Tree Gully and having a couple of nights with my brother Colin and Yolande.  Attended Adam and Emily's wedding where we celebrated with old friends and had a great time.

Adam and Emily's wedding

Saw these koala while visiting my sister near Mt Pleasant, SA

Sunrise as we wait to catch our flight from Adelaide back to the GC

Called into Vilis on our way to another old close friends Mike and Joy, for good old SA food - pie/pasty and vanilla slice plus a milkshake!!  After another great night with them, moved on to meet our Cactus Christmas mob for brunch at the Fethers Hotel - another wonderful time with great company.  Next day I had a specialist appointment before heading to Seacliff and spending a couple of nights with Helen's brother Robert & Rhonda.

Sincere thanks to all who looked after us - your wonderful hospitality is greatly appreciated.

Flew back from Adelaide to Gold Coast Airport where Tennelle picked us up before we drove back to pick up the van from Leon and Sandy's retreat.  Spent the night and then drove down to Boyd's Bay Caravan Park where we spent the next 6 weeks while I worked as Santa at Tweed City.

Had a few day's off now and then which entailed getting a new windscreen, food stock ups, cerebration of Todd's birthday, Helen having various visits to the Dentist which she enjoyed.....NOT!!  Celebrated our 43rd Wedding Anniversary with dinner at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club, and enjoyed calling into Todd and Tennelle's for drinks and dinner from time to time.  Nice to be close for a while. Went for a walk along Wommin Beach, Fingal Head which was very windy but a great walk especially as I needed relax time after many hours of playing Santa!  I noticed Helen read quite a few books while I was working hard!

Curlew family at Boyds Bay Tourist Park

Had to leave Boyd's Bay Caravan Park on 23/12 as no sites available due to Christmas bookings, so booked into Murwillumbah Showgrounds for 3 nights as I was still working up until 24/12.  Not a bad drive into Tweed Heads from Murwillumbah but was certainly glad when my shift finished on Christmas Eve.

25 September, 2017

Roma, Qld

We left Lara Wetlands and drove to Blackall, where we stayed the night as wanted to watch the Adelaide Crows play Geelong in the AFL Preliminary Final.  Booked into Blackall Caravan Park and with temperature at 36 degrees gave the air conditioning another work out. Had a bit of a drive around town before returning to the Van for the game.  After sun went down temperature was much more bearable.  Crows won the game so next game will be the Grand Final!!  Caught up again the next day with Kathy and Neville who stayed the night and with temperature around 37 degrees we spent most of the day in the Van with air conditioning.

The Blackall Black stump
"Beyond the black stump"
Kathy and Neville left before us next day but we caught up with them down the track with a blown tyre on their Caravan. I helped put spare wheel on in 39 degree temperature, which was far from pleasant.  Off they went down the road again only to have to stop when the spare tyre blew out. I thought our spare wheel would fit and it did, much to Kathy and Neville's surprise and relief. Stopped for lunch at Augathella (dry and dusty) and checked the wheel nuts before detouring to Charleville where they could purchase new tyres for the Van.  Checked into Bailey Bar Caravan Park where we were squeezed in and after a hot windy day we showered and headed to the RSL for cold drinks and a nice dinner in air conditioning!

Stopped at Tambo for coffee and saw this Border Collie minding the sheep. Never moved the whole time we were there!!
No wonder he was so skinny - was as thin as a sheet of corrugated iron!!

Drove out to the Evening Star caravan park, was very dusty and windy so decided to go into Charlieville.
Neville organised new tyres to be fitted first thing in morning so we picked up our spare wheel which was kindly lifted back on by the Service man.  Continued on Warrego Highway stopping in Morven for coffee then onto Mitchell and finally Roma where we visited the bakery for lunch!  Kathy and Neville arrived and had booked into the Roma Gun Club on recommendation from people they had met travelling.  Great for an overnight stop - approx 20 vans camped and participated in their Happy Hour meeting travellers and locals.

In the morning after hitching up the van we drove to the Roma Saleyards for a free guided tour of the cattle sales.  Roma Saleyards is the largest cattle selling centre in Australia with 300,000-400,000 head of cattle sold through the facility annually. Cattle are usually sold by cents per kilogram of their live weight.  In some cases, very light weaner calves, pregnant cows and cows with calves are sold at dollars per head.  Auctions are conducted twice weekly with a store sale every Tues and a prime sale every Thurs. A store sale is comprised of cattle purchased for fattening or to breed from (usually attracts around 7,000 head of cattle).  A prime sale is comprised of cattle fattened on grass, fodder crops or grain and are ready to be sold for meat production.

The tour guide giving a brief introduction before we move into the sale yard area.

The auctioneers in action selling the penned group, however if one is not wanted or to be sold separately a mark is painted on its back - note the man holding the long pole.

Waiting to be auctioned

On the day of the sale, licensed agents represent sellers and buyers.  After the sale cattle are weighed and moved for delivery or into spelling yards.  From there they are trucked to their destination, which takes place on the evening of the sale or the next day.

We witnessed a store sale and under the guidance of a tour guide, was able to get up close to the buyers and auctioneers to watch the sales.  Amazing how the auctioneers pick up when a buyer is bidding as we could not see any movement whatsoever!  Thoroughly enjoyed this informative and interesting tour and would recommend to anyone.

All the pens with groups of cattle to be auctioned

This group is being weighed after the sale and the kg price shown on the group.
After a coffee at the Bakery in town we continued on the Warrego Highway to Miles, Chinchilla and onto Dalby. Kathy and Neville decided to stay another night at the Roma Gun Club.  Because our AFL team the Adelaide Crows made it into the Grand Final, we made the decision to go to the Gold Coast for the weekend and watch the Grand Final with both Todd and Briony.  This would also give us the opportunity to spend time with our kids and see Todd and Tenelle's home for the first time.

Stayed a night at Dalby Pioneer Caravan Park then headed to Toowoomba on Warrego Highway, turned off onto New England Highway towards Warwick then turned off 15kms before Warwick and headed to Boonah via Clintonvale, Aratula and Kalbar.  Stopped at Boonah Showgrounds for lunch and decided to stay night.  Had a walk around town in the heat and was happy that the evening cooled down considerably.

From Boonah we drove to Canungra where we stayed at the Showgrounds.  Very busy as it was a long weekend.  Once again the air conditioner was used as temperature rose to 38 degrees.  Departed early in the morning and headed to Kirra Beach Caravan Park where we stayed for 3 nights (long weekend).

18 September, 2017

Lara Wetlands

We have heard good reports about Lara Wetlands but had never stayed there and with friends caretaking the area, decided we would factor a stay into our travels.

Lara Station is 28kms south of Barcaldine and is well set up for bush camping. Very pretty spot with plenty of bird life and a guided tour of the old homestead which is steeped in history.  There is also an artesian pool, canoes available to explore the lake and fire braziers so we could have a nice fire at night whilst enjoying a few wines. Our NZ friends Kathy and Neville were able to join us for a few nights so had a great time catching up. Drove Kathy & Neville into Barcaldine and showed them around ending up in the Shakespeare Pub for a good lunch then back to camp in time for Happy hour!  The weather was lovely and ended up staying for 6 nights enjoying catching up with Caretakers, Lynn and Janice. Would thoroughly recommend Lara Wetlands to stay and also include the historical tour in your visit.

One of many great sunsets at Lara Wetlands.

Panoramic of the wetlands

Early morning dip in the thermal pool.

A well set out camp kitchen and playground 
Sunrise taken on my way to the thermal pool

Our camp with Neville and Kathy

A big rig set up around the lake at Lara Wetlands - the trailer carries his '79 series and quad bike!
The Funny Dunny!!

View inside the Funny Dunny - what a regal set up for two!

The girls not too anxious to jump in as this is the "cold" swimming hole

Sunday morning bacon and eggs for breakfast - what a perfect setting

Jo the Owner of Lara Station providing historical information regarding the old homestead in the background.  Well worth including the Historical tour on your visit.

Having scones on the verandah visualizing how high society of the day would have spent an afternoon gathering at the Stately Homestead

A section of the small museum in one of the sheds by the old Homestead

Tawny Frogmouth
so well camouflaged that it took us 3 days to spot and a little help from Kathy 

Black winged Stilt
Quite a number of bird species enjoy the wetlands

Ducks visiting late afternoon

This little fella came wandering through camp during Happy Hour one evening