Back to the Big Island!
Setting off ...
Well G'day. It's been a while since Cockatoos and Kangaroos has had an airing, but here we are.
It seems fitting to be making a post in this blog when we are on the road again with the Prado and the Ulti, on our way to pick up the grandkids for a bit of exploring in the backblocks of southeast Queensland. Hopefully we will be able to share some iconic Australian landscapes with them and have an outdoor meal or two, although - as we are not going to be on the coast - we probably won't throw on a shrimp on the barbie! Besides, it isn't actually summer yet so not technically barbecuing season.
After leaving home in Hobart at about noon on Sunday and then stopping to visit Pat and David in their new home in Longford, we rolled on to spend the night in Devonport before catching the morning ferry to Melbourne. All sweet until the silly sausage who checked our vehicle decided that the smaller of our camper's two gas bottles needed to come out of its secure storage locker and go on the trolley for us to pick up at the other end. Unbelievable. We've been back and forth on the ferry with the camper perhaps a dozen times and never had anyone query this before. The officious little person gave the official reason as "all gas bottles must be held in place by a metal bracket". So this is what we have in our gas locker ...
|Secure or ... not secure?|
As far as I know, none of the 40 or 50 Ultimate camper trailers that visited Tasmania last summer had to surrender their gas bottles for transport and, as I said, we've never had this happen before. Just another little bit of silliness from a small person with a very small brain. (Compared with all the other trips we've made over the years with camping gear stuffed into the car and always having to stop when we get off the ferry to pick up a gas bottle, up until now travelling with the camper-trailer has been sweet in this regard - which is why I was particularly annoyed this time around.) What made it all even more silly was the person with the official coat on did not insist that we had to surrender the big bottle, which has the same sort of restraint system as the tiny bottle. Why not, I wondered (but not aloud: didn't want to get the small brain working too hard!)
Landfall and beyond
This was our first ever day sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania and we had a general - but untested - plan of "What to do When We Get Off the Boat". The ferry arrives about 6:00 p.m. We wanted to clear Melbourne and get a bit of a way up the road so we could reduce - if only slightly - the amount of driving we would have to do each day for the next four days to a base from which we would sally forth to the Brisbane Airport to pick up our darlings. We've got the bikes with us, and our hope is to be able to have a ride after driving each day.
So far so good. Here's a map showing where we've got to so far: two days after landing in Melbourne and our target for midday on Friday ...
|On the road again!|
We got a couple of hours and about 170 kilometres up the road to Euroa: just in time to check into a motel (it was raining) to watch the final episodes of both Vera and The Bletchley Circle on our beloved ABS.
Now fully debriefed and ready for a month on the road - although I will at least have to find a pub to watch the AFL Grand Final - we set off yesterday morning with a vague plan to drive about 400 kilometres, find a caravan park and then go for a ride, then repeat a couple of times. Oh yes. We also wanted to drive some roads that we'd not been on before and visit some previously unvisited towns.
The First Stop is the ... Sweetest?
With Di looking at the road atlas as I drove, we cobbled together a route and fetched up a bit after midday yesterday in Young, which lays claim to being the "Cherry Capital of Australia", a boast that several places in Tasmania would find somewhat bemusing. It was a bit cool, but we really wanted to get back on our bikes after a pretty hectic month without much time turning the pedals so, after setting up the camper and changing into our cycling gear, off we set.
Now, Di hasn't been on the bike quite as much as me since we finished our ride from London to Rome so we were playing it by ear as far as the distance we would go. It was a bit cool and we only had a couple of hours of daylight left so ended up doing a shorter ride than we might have liked. Here's a photo of Di, stopped to put on her headband for a bit of extra warmth ...
|A typical Aussie outback scene: gum trees and canola|
Going Deeper into New South Wales
Without really planning it, our drive over the past couple of days has taken us through some historic places. Before arriving in Young yesterday we passed through Cootamundra, the birthplace of "Our Don", otherwise know as Don Bradman, the cricketer with the fabled batting average of 99 point 9 something (light years above anyone else in the history of the game). And today we passed through Grenfell, the birthplace of the great, but seemingly almost forgotten by modern Australia, colonial era poet, Henry Lawson. This is goldrush country and many of these towns boast a faded grandeur, thanks to the legacy of the precious ore extracted from the creeks and rivers that wend across the landscape.
During today's drive from Young to Gilgandra we passed through country that has had a lot of rainfall over the past few weeks. With the terrain hereabouts being generally fairly flat, when it rains a lot the water tends to wander a bit resulting in widespread flooding. We crossed through a number of spots where there was water across the road. Here's a video of one of those crossings, that Di shot through the windscreen of the Prado ...
Despite being slowed numerous times by these aquatic incursions, we managed to arrive in Gilgandra reasonable early in the afternoon, set up camp and set off for another ride. (Two rides together in two days: yippee!) Even on our ride, where we found a quiet road off the highway, we crossed several small watercourses across our path. There sure is a lot of water about. Which of course means that there will be a large upsurge over the spring and summer ... Of Cockatoos and Kangaroos! And with that I bid you all a good night ...