|Current Location: Hanmer Springs||Kilometres Travelled:||Time on the Road:|
Still-No Hurry is having a revamp which is currently under construction.....
We will add the odd snippet here until the site proper is alive and kicking
We are now on the downward slide of our time in Hanmer Springs, only one month to go. We better get busy and do all those walks etc we planned to do when we first arrived. Funny how things turn out, you plan to stay two night in a town and are still there eight months later. This really struck John and I when we had to get a second warrant for Zuki, we both looked at each other, thinking, surely we have not been here for over six months!
So Easter is just under a month away and I am very excited, not only because it will also be my birthday (number not supplied) but Mum and Allan will be bringing their bus to the South Island. It will be the first time we have seen it in the flesh, before that it was the best kept family secret. Mum and Allan had wanted to surprise us and just turn up and park next to us somewhere on the road, but due to other commitments they could not arrange this and had to confess before the cat got out of the bag. Hard to believe that they have had it since July 08 and we did not find out until October. Apparently my family is good at keeping secrets!
Well, time at the camp has been ticking along quickly through this busy period. Bruce and Sandra came to stay a few days and see the New Year in with us. This is the second New Years they have spent with us on the road. Not bad going, since we have been on the road only three years.
Margaret (John's sister) and Roger (her fiancÚ) came to spend a few days with us around the 20th. Due to the camp being so busy we had to work a fair amount of the time but they managed to amuse themselves while we worked, and our boss gave us a day off to spend with them which was great. We kicked off the day by going to the A Maze N Golf. What a neat place, the course is varied and interesting. Unfortunately I got to go first at each hole so the others had the advantage of learning from my mistakes. So as you will have guessed from this comment my score was the highest but I did have three very close holes in one but not quite. Marg on the other hand did manage to achieve this. Once completed we set off for the maze, deciding that it would be best to go around in couple teams (not girls against boys as the man at the counter suggested). A very cool maze and the falling wall got John. The chocolate coin at the end was worth getting lost for.
A quick trip back to the bus to pack the picnic lunch and we were Lake Taylor bound. I find it hard to believe that every time we take someone else there, there is a wind and the lake is choppy. Not the serene tranquil version we first came across in July last year. We had a great picnic lunch, made all the better for having left over roast turkey from the night before. After a few relaxing games of Rummikub we decided to head back to The Hurunui Hotel for dinner. A very fun, action packed day. (photos to come)
I have a big thank you for SONY. My faithful Cypershot DSC T1 had a bit of a malfunction near the end of our Australia trip. We dropped it off to Sony in Christchurch to have it tested and provide a quote for repairs, as it is well outside any warranty period. We received a call a few day later saying that it had been repaired and they would courier it back to us all at no charge. I was amazed as I was expecting this to be the 'this is how much it will cost to make the repairs' call. The repair sheet said they had replaced the CCD imager. For those like me that this means nothing to, it is basically the main part that captures the picture in the camera. Thank you Sony for such excellent service. I will be telling all my friends about this and if I decide to upgrade my camera anytime in the future I don't think I would look outside Sony for a replacement after this experience.
It is time for Ziggy's six monthly checkup so we take the bus down to Balmoral Forest the day before, so we only have a short trip to the vet in Culverden, on Monday. The vet says the test results show his kidney condition as being stable. We are very happy with this news! We end up spending three nights at the forest and it is gorgeous weather, it definitely feels like summer. Even broke out the hammock and had a book reading day, a hard life but luckily someone has to do it. On Tuesday night we have an outdoor fire from all the firewood left around the forest park. It is such a still night we end up staying outside till 11pm.
Well we are back from OZ with tales a plenty. Rosaleen and Gil have had a wonderful time exploring Hanmer Springs and the surrounding areas. They have done more looking around in their two weeks than we have achieved the whole time we have been here. Must rectify that very soon. They have a midday flight back to Auckland today so we head for the hills early and stop for breakfast on the way into Christchurch.
Well our trip to Australia seemed to be a long time coming and then it all happened with a rush and a roar. We were met at Brisbane airport by my family who happened to be in the same part of the world at the same time, a very nice coincidence. Mum and Allan had taken two grandkids for a trip to Australia, frequenting every theme park available. When Luke said 'Gran I think I am theme parked out', they knew they HAD really done them all, it only took a mammoth 31 hours to achieve this milestone (amazing Gran and Poppa were still standing).
Mum and Allan had swapped their rental car for a campervan. Mum was blown away to find that it was brand spanking new and this would be its maiden voyage. We loaded our bags in and started to head north, stopping in Noosa the first night where we were very lucky to get the last powered site. We decided to walk into town in search of dinner rather than risk taking the camper and loosing our site. Coming from NZ it definitely felt like we had arrived in the tropics. We had a lovely dinner and waddled back to camp feeling replete and looking forward to bed. The next morning were all dead to the world, bar Allan, when the camp manager bashed on the door at 6:45 to get our name. We were very unimpressed considering it said if you were a late arrival you had to check in when the office opened at 7am. Not the best way to start our first full day in Australia. We went to Noosa Heads in search of breakfast and for a wander around the shops, before heading to meet up with Gavin and Tracey just out of Gin Gin. They were waiting for us on the side of the road to lead us the last few kilometres to their property (or block as they call them in OZ). Mum was very happy that she did not have a birds eye view when we got onto their land and drove along the top of the paddock before heading down the reasonably steep slope to where Hobohome was parked at the bottom, yes not a flat piece of land by any stretch of the imagination. Tracey had planned a camp oven pork roast dinner but the weather decided to conspire against us so she had to cook in the bus. Still very nice but I am sure Mum and Allan would have enjoyed the camp oven experience. Mum and Allan head off the next day before the rain threatened again as they are a bit concerned about getting the camper back up the slope to the road.
We spent a few more days there and the weather even turned out fine for us.... which was nice as we were beginning to think it could turn out to be a rainy holiday. Tracey and I spent sometime with the horses that are currently on the property, one being a pony that has been broken in, the other is a mare that is yet to be broken. The mare is a very nice looking brown horse and the pony looks like it has been painted up with 'put the saddle here' markings.
We even managed to get to cook in the camp oven and one day we made muffin cake for lunch. Yes, this is where you make muffin mixture but improvise to cook it in the camp oven because the muffin tray wont fit. Given that it disappeared in one sitting, our improvising did not appear to affect the end product.
We head out on the 14th planning to slowly work our way up to The Old Station near Raglan. Our first stop is Cania Gorge. But before I get carried away telling you about this part of the world, have a look at how relaxed Gavin and Tracey's cat Tivoli is about travelling. Have you seen anything like this. She took turns to chill out with John or I each day we travelled. John really enjoyed having Tivoli on his knee as Zigs will not travel on our knees and when stationary, he prefers to curl up on my knee if it is available. Anyway I digress, back to Cania Gorge this is a national park with lots of walks, huge rocky cliffs and a large lake. We stop at the lake and do a walk around the area. We found this really neat house that from a distance looked like a log cabin but was actually a hardiplank house that has been painted up to look like a log cabin. The garage was also painted up from galvanised iron to look like wood, there was even a Ford in the garage door opening. Many hours work and a lot of talent was used to transform this house and garage.
We stayed the night at Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat. This camp really rings my bells as they have hammocks dotted around the camp just begging to be used and with my disposition towards hammocks, I am in my element. Their cabins have been painted up as Koala's, Kangaroos etc, so very cool. That night they had a bush poet around the camp fire. I really enjoyed this but it was not high on the boys list of ways to while away an evening. As penance Gavin is on dinner duties.
The next morning we decide to walk the Fern Tree Pool and Giants Chair Circuit before we hit the road. A very enjoyable 5.6km walk. With the day turning out really hot, the swimming pool is looking very inviting when we return, as is the hammock.
We are Biloela bound. We stop at a rest area and make scones for lunch, the boys decide this is a good opportunity to have another game of unreal. I nearly got my best candid shot of Gavin using both hands to play unreal, with a scone hanging out his mouth but he managed to foil my attempt just in the nick of time but I am sure that you can imagine what it looked like using this photo as a guide. In Biloela we stay at the Queensland Heritage Park. I could not believe that the fee was AUD$5 per night per vehicle and this was with power, showers and toilets provided. If you are in the area I recommend you stop here for the night and go through the heritage park before you leave. Our night here was a spectacular one as the electrical storm put on an amazing display for an hour or more. Some of the lightning actually went upwards and curved back to the cloud (something none of us had witnessed before). An impressive display, however the clap of thunder directly over the bus while we were sleeping definitely had all inhabitants awake even if only for a few seconds, man it was loud.
Next stop Calliope Crossing. We stop on route to collect firewood to do our camp oven roast chicken dinner. Gavin and Tracey are surprised by the number of vehicles camping here, the last time they were here there were four other campers. This time we have to find a site from the slim pickings available. We find a nice spot close to the river where Tracey put out a few nets to see if she can catch some fresh water shrimps. We though it was going to be a great place for a swim but the crocodiles have come to stay now so no swimming this time around. Some Dutch tourists came up to us and asked if we knew how to cook fish, as they have been given two whole ones and did not know what to do with them. Tracey kindly cooks them on the camp fire together with our dinner. We have some of their fish for entree and we all sit around the camp fire until the rain threatens.
We make our way to Gladstone the next morning, strangely the boys get lost in town looking for the post shop, luckily there was an electronics store to keep them amused while they searched the town. We decide it is time for a bit of R&R and head to the beach for lunch, and a spot of sunbathing for the girls. Later that afternoon we head out past Mt Larcom to The Old Station(www.oldstationbrahmans.com.au). This is a station that Gavin and Tracey visited last year and set up a website for them. It is also where Tracey's cousin Kiwi and his wife Lynne live. We are here to take photos of the completed accommodation facilities. Lynne comes over with a very warm greeting. We then get the Moke out and go over to view the accommodation. On the way we meet Ron, Helen & kids and Dougie. We get the grand tour, a very neat building made from an extension of an aircraft hanger. Loved the big wooden doors, window shutters and the slab bar. The Moke climbs some steep hills to get good vantage spots for Gavin to take his photos. Some necessitated a lightening of the load (the passengers) to make it to the top.
Later we have dinner at the local pub in Raglan with the crew from The Old Station. As we pull into the drive we come across an Echidna. Kiwi tells us that not many people have seen one of these in the flesh. He is quite shy and spends most of his time hiding between the guys feet. Those big white dots on its back, which you can see in the photo with Gavin, are ticks that are feeding off the echidna. Kiwi treats them with meths so they will drop off naturally. You should not try to pull ticks off as you risk leaving the head behind and this can cause infection.
On Saturday morning we drive up to Langmorn Station, about 10 kilometres up the road, to look at the historic house that Ron's parents George and Leonie live in. Here we enjoy morning tea with the kangaroos and a group of German tourists. Luckily Tracey is used to driving on these sorts of roads and navigates us easily around two Lizards who are sunbathing on the road. Amazingly one is so blasÚ it stayed exactly where it was, showing no signs of being scared at all as we back up around it to get some photos. He then takes a lot of encouragement before we can convince him to move off the road.
That afternoon we join the Contiki crowd, who are staying on Saturday night at The Old Station, for a hay ride, a wonderful roast dinner and a night of fun. Gavin and Tracey get to zip around on Kiwi and Lynnes very new 4WD Polaris to capture photos of the hay ride around the station. A very enjoyable two nights here, it was the highlight of the holiday for me.
Sunday 19th, after an enjoyable morning tea, we hit the road heading south as Tracey was surprised to find that our leaving day was a Thursday and not Friday as she had originally thought. We make it as far as Lake Monduran. A nice, very large camp. They have aquariums here that displays a large number of native fish species and some of the introduced pests. The tanks are huge plastic ones with viewing portholes, very cool. The lake is a huge one but with the water level at only 36% of capacity it is very low. A popular spot for boats and fishing. You have to be careful with anything you catch here ensuring you gut and clean it very well as this lake, together with others we have seen on our travels, has a blue/green algae that is very caustic to skin.
We head to Hervey Bay (pronounced Harvey Bay) and stay at a beach front camp.
Tracey and I see it as another sunbathing opportunity, I am sure you can guess
what the boys are doing in the bus (yes playing unreal). I am amazed to see a
pelican just metres from the shore just floating up and down the bay. I thought
it would have taken off when some boisterous boys jump in the water but it
simply floats a little further down the bay before coming back up a wee while
later. I have never been this close to a pelican before.
Strangely, John and I appear to be on a mixture of NZ and OZ time. We wake up at our usual NZ time which equates to 5.30am OZ time but are going to be at 10-11pm OZ time (1am NZ time). So the next morning we sneak off early for a nice long walk along the beach. We come across a stand of trees that are home to a very large colony of bats which are coming home to roost for the day. We are surprised that they are in such an open environment, so much for the theory of bats being in dark caves during the day.
Our next stop is Tin Can Bay. This is a neat beach area with amazingly white sand. Here we see a number of pelicans. We have decided to stop here the night so we can do the dolphin feeding at eight the next morning. A very cool experience, you are in knee deep water and the dolphins are just sitting there, with the carers, patiently waiting to be feed. All they ask for is a gold coin donation if you wish to feed the dolphins. There are two boys waiting for us. The father has been coming to the bay for 17 years, the son for only the last few months. Each dolphin is feed 3kg of fish which is only a small amount of their daily intake. This is to ensure that they do not become reliant on this food and still continue to hunt naturally. The pelicans were hanging around hoping that some of the fish might end up going their way instead of the dolphins.
Once the boys have been feed they go away and mum turns up. She is a lot whiter than the boys. Tracey and I feed her and just as we head off, all three dolphins are sitting in the shallows. Such a neat thing to experience in such a natural setting.
We head off from here feeling a little sad that our holiday is drawing to a close. We run a few errands on our way to Brisbane and set up camp at Nudgee Beach in Moreton Bay. A nice spot but a very windy one today. Tracey and I wonder why there is a couple braving the conditions to have their picnic dinner here. I think I would have stayed in the car and enjoyed the view from there. That night we head to a very huge Westfield Mall to have our farewell dinner. Then home to pack our bags for our early flight tomorrow.
We have enticed Rosaleen and Gil down to the South Island, to cat and bus sit, while we run off to Australia to catch up with Gavin and Tracey post their South America trip. We have taken them to Balmoral Forest for a few days and went for a picnic to Lake Taylor. The lake was not the calm serene version we had experienced previously, so no reflection photos this time. They did however enjoy the rugged scenery and 40km of gravel roads.
Well my twelve days of bacheloresshood did not turn out quite how I expected. Instead of getting up to mischief I ended up finding myself some paid employment. Funny how life turns out. The best thing is that when John came back from Auckland they decided that they could also make use of him. So we are now gainfully employed as camp hands at Alpine Adventure Holiday Park. Who would have thought huh.
Originally we thought we were coming to Hanmer Springs for a couple of days before heading back to the forest but as they say.... the best laid plans of mice and men. Our two days was extended by an additional week, then we decided to tack on another month. We have been hoping for a good dumping of snow so I can build my snowman next to the bus but even though it has tried to oblige on a number of occasions, it has never been enough to build anything. Given it is only five weeks till daylight saving I am beginning to loose hope of my wish being granted this winter. We did however drive up to the snow which put a smile on my face. It was so neat stomping around in deep snow. I even tried making my first snow angel but soon realised I should have worn waterproof clothing!! Hope you enjoy the photos of my first attempt which I hope will improve with practise.
We have been eyeing the wood that a few other campers have left behind and decide after a nice warm day that tonight is the night to have ourselves an outdoor fire. So we spend much of the afternoon gathering pinecones and chopping up the left over bits. John asks what do you do again to light a fire (well it has been some years since we have had a wood fire) so I tell him to leave it to me and I am pleased to say that I still possess my fire bug skills inherited from my mother. It is not long before we have a roaring golden glow in front of us.
A surprise day trip for John sees us head to Lake Taylor. We had lots of fun on the way to the lake putting Zuki into 4WD and crossing a number of fords. Upon arriving at the lake the reflection was so good that you had to look twice to see what was lake and what was the surrounding scenery. After a lovely picnic lunch in the sun we head back home promising that we will come back this way again and go through to Lake Sumner next time. And if we are a lot fitter we will tramp up to the hot pools about 6k walk from Lake Sumner.
Can you imagine the surprised look on our faces when we found our hub meter had gone on a journey of its own....Yes we got to our destination some 70k from our last location only to find that the hub had not completed the trip with us....Amazingly we retraced our route and found it just 2 kilometres from where we set off....do you know how much rubbish you see on the side of the road when you are trying to spot your lost hub.
Snow!!!! Yes those who know me will know that I have been hanging out for snow ever since it got a little cooler in the South Island....and you will also know that it is me who is enthusiastic about this and John a whole lot less so. So Murphy in his infinite wisdom decided to make it snow heavily around the bus two days after I had flown to Auckland...Man I was so disappointed to miss it.....Ziggy however took a little while to be convinced that he should venture outside and even longer to adapt to walking on icy snow, quite slippery for a cat.