“Sunshine” Coast, QLD.

It pretty much rained the whole time we were here!! ha ha. We think we might call it the Rainy Coast instead.

I’ve found it really hard to write about our time here, I feel nauseous just thinking about it. We were here a total of 5 weeks. We arrived a few days before Dan started work and initially we were staying at a caravan park by the beach in Maroochydore. It was nice, but I wanted more space for the longer stay, with Dan coming and going from work, juggling pick ups, showers and cooking I searched desperately for something else and stayed in a granny flat in Nambour, a hilly green region, 20 mins from Dans work.

Anyway so the amazing good news is we’re pregnant with number 2. After a long wait for Esther, with help from IVF, to have this surprise was so exciting and week 5 of the pregnancy was my favourite time. After having a positive pregnancy test I was on cloud 9!!!

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Little did I know my plans to cook wonderful dinners, bake wonderful snacks and spring clean the caravan were spewed straight into the toilet! Not just metaphorically. So I don’t exactly have fond memories of this place. I purely went into survival mode and managed to keep my toddler fed and alive for this period, hanging out everyday until she had her naps so I could lay down, often succumbing to just laying on the couch while she played. It was hard. I take my hat off to all those mum’s who have gone before me. Sorry I didn’t come and take your toddler out for the day. Sorry I didn’t bring you a smoothie so you actually ate and sorry I didn’t make dinner simply so you didn’t have to. I just didn’t understand! I was sick with Esther, I vomited until the day she was born but I think work was a distraction. I’m also very aware many have it much worse and many who would put their hand up to have it much worse, just to be pregnant (Wait a minute, what about me and all the fathers out there who also battle through this period! I worked all day, only to come home, listen to my wife complain, entertain my manic house bound child and cook dinner).. that was Dans two cents.. but he was wonderful to us!

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Catching up with a dear friend.

Mons French Playgroup:

Being in the one spot for a few weeks I sought out a playgroup and found a French one. It was great. I was very welcomed and it helped get me out of the house each week. Esther loved the interaction and had a few firsts including painting and I met some wonderful mothers. Great location too.

Didn’t have a change of clothes that day!!

Views of the beautiful Hinterland Region:

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We also visited the Eumundi Markets, after discovering them on a short holiday here in 2015  and we still think they are Australia’s best!

Buderim Ginger Factory:

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Can you see a tail?
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It’s a bearded dragon in the playground 🙂

Esther learning the pogo stick! Well after learning to walk it’s only the next step right?

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Celebrating Dan’s last day of work at the shop.

Then on the road to Brisbane…

Fraser Island, QLD.

October, 2017.

Raining all the way from Tannum Sands, we pulled into a soggy caravan park near the town centre of an industrial looking Bundaberg. We were over it after a long day driving (from Moura) and finally pulling in was a welcome reprieve. Although it became a mexican takeaway night with an Esther ready for bed and no real time to prepare food. Sometimes it feels like a mad rush and with Esther sleeping in the kitchen (well the caravan, it’s all one room) its not a viable option to feed her, put her to bed, then cook our own dinner. We only spent one night in Bundaberg, a visit to church the next morning where I was made to feel so welcome and spoiled by experienced mothers who had cool trinkets for Esther to play with, (what I did bring didn’t seem to keep her entertained). Lunch in the van outside church and off again.

With recommendations to visit Fraser Island we headed to Hervey Bay. Close to our budget limit and lovers of the Barefoot Investor, we had put some money in a “Smile” account before we left (although our whole trip warrants usage of the smile account) which we had used for things that didn’t quite fit in our budget. We found a package deal for 3 nights accommodation including breakfast, taking us and our car over on the ferry, which was too good to miss. What better time to use our “Smile” money to celebrate our birthdays so we made the booking.

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Lining up to drive onto the ferry.
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The Ferry.
Thick rainforest within a km of driving off the ferry.

Lake Mackenzie:

This place is stunning. The clearest water, whitest sand, but chilly! It is a perched lake, so only filled by rainwater. Where the water changes from clear to blue in the photo it drops off quite deep, Dan and I went over with some snorkel masks to check it out and it was kind of scary as the floor disappeared into a blue abyss (apparently only 8.5 m deep, so visibility must’ve decreased because you couldn’t see the bottom).

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SS Maheno Shipwreck (1935):

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Champagne Pools:

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Sandblows & Lake Boomanjin:

In my mind I was expecting something different, so when we hiked in the heat to see a sand dune I was utterly disappointed ha ha. Lake Boomanjin (the red lake) looked like it had rusty water lapping up on the shore, supposedly discoloured by the tannin from the Tea Trees.

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Driving out of the forest back to the beach we found this very still turtle on the track. Not sure if he was dead or alive we pulled over. At first he didn’t move much, but he was a good 100m from a water source. Dan put some gloves on and picked him up, put him in a reusable shopping bag and took him home.. nooo.. took him to the lake we were passing. After thrashing and tearing holes in the bag when Dan released him he seemed very happy to swim off.

Things to see and places to visit on the island are not that far in distance, but seem to take forever 4WDing. The track was boggy sand with roots so unless you want whiplash you needed to take your time going up, down, over and around. Except for driving along the beach, it was difficult to get any speed up.

Long neck freshwater turtle.

Eli Creek:

It was a little overcast when we finally made it to Eli Creek, packed with people enjoying such an awesome spot on the beach and a shallow running creek you could float down. The water was a little cool so Esther didn’t enjoy it as much as anticipated and the weather was cooler as we got there later in the day than planned due to the lack of speed 4WDing in the forest.

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My turn driving on the beach!

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What is that in the distance?
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A cement truck?
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And another truck!!

 

Central Station Rainforest:

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Add it to your bucket list!

Mackay to Tannum Sands, QLD.

October, 2017

Mackay:

 A few months prior we sent off some resumes and emails introducing Dan to some Mower shops on the East coast offering a few weeks to a few months worth of work. We got a fantastic response and were now ready to pursue some of the leads. Unfortunately for us the shop owner in Mackay met and liked Daniel but wanted him to stay on until Feb, 2018. We wanted to be in Sydney for Christmas so that wasn’t going to work, we declined and continued to the next follow up. So in answer to people’s question is it easy to get work on the road? I think it is if you are flexible. If you have a shorter time frame, save some more money before you leave and don’t worry about working, or if time is not an issue you will have many options. Mackay was the last place we found coconut palms. Oh so sad!

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Standard dinner time for Esther with guests.

Bundoora Dam: Free Camp

As I’ve said before, these free camps have such a different vibe to caravan parks, we love them but haven’t used them enough. We’re currently in Victoria typing this so if anyone has any suggestions for the rest of our trip home (back to Perth) please send them my way. No unhooking the van, so an easy pack up the next morning. Generally more remote so less reception and no power therefore choices for cooking/entertainment options are simplified. This was such a gem that I even commented on Wikicamps. We put our net in for red claw over night to no avail… but a lovely couple felt sorry for Dan and generously gave him some of theirs that they had collected out on their tinny in the middle of the lake. Maybe all this lack of catching is just an opportunity to appreciate everyone else’s generosity and remember that, when we finally catch something!

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Emerald:

A place on Dan’s must see list. A place to channel the inner treasure hunter. I don’t have any photo’s of Emerald. hmm. We weren’t there long, Dan went out for the day to Sapphire and Ruby to fossick, he had no luck finding anything but he did find some cut sapphires at a great price that Tom has agreed to make into earrings. I managed to find my first playgroup walking distance from the caravan park. Esther loved it. Thank goodness for technology it is as easy as googling playgroups and you will see a list of locations and times to attend. This was also the case for library ‘Rhyme Time’ and have attended a few different libraries around the country when the timing has worked out, such an awesome free service.

Entrance to Carnarvon National Park:

We heard lots of wonderful things about Carnarvon National Park, but we will now have to keep it on our bucket list. We headed out there (60km detour one way), knowing that the day before the road had been closed. Although not that high, the water was flowing fast and there was more rain due that evening, We did watch others cross and survive but we decided to not risk getting flooded in when we only wanted to stay one night in order to head to the next job offer before time evaded us. We found a free camp (donation to APEX who maintain it) on the way to Gladstone called ‘Dawson River Rest Area Moura’. It was a busy spot with a little playground, toilets and apparently hot showers for a small fee.

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Tannum Sands: Canoe Point Park

We pulled in for a lunch stop not sure if we would stay, but with the weather as dreary and wet as you can see we kept driving. A few of the roads were closed along the coast, so we missed out on going to 1770 which we hear is beautiful. As you can see Esther had an absolute blast playing in the sand and mud.

 

Airlie Beach, QLD

It was so nice to see my cousin James, his wife Liz and their children again. We were able to conveniently park at the rear of their home, which made enjoying meals together a breeze. Boy were those meals delicious. Liz spoiled us with good home cooked food the whole time we were there, from scones to muffins (PS I still need to get that recipe off you), smoothies, a quiche bake-off, what a machine! Even treating us to her famous lasagne. It was delish! Disappointingly for everyone else, one night the enchiladas fell to the ground being brought out to the table, but it wasn’t the gluten free ones it was the glutenous ones, so I still got to enjoy dinner!! A rough week for them with kids home sick from school, they still managed to accommodate and spoil us. Introducing us to the “train game”, post cyclone home reno’s 101, where the hip hang out for some casual dining and the best places to fish.

Esther loved playing with new toys and her new friends. She even got to take some of the toys with her, including a Wiggles guitar! Which we’ve heard a few times now.

Thanks to James we were also treated to a flight with Air Whitsunday over the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, something I had only dreamed of doing. It was amazing and I would highly recommend it. To see the reef from that perspective, the colour, the patterns and how long it extended on the horizon was amazing. I saw some sharks and Dan saw some turtles. It was truly stunning. Here are some photos, although not sure if they do it justice.

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The De Havilland Beaver .
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“Heart Reef”

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Liz kindly watched Esther for the morning and looking at these photo’s I don’t think Esther even knew we were gone (Note the bracelet):

Airlie Beach Lagoon:

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Views from the restaurant we went to on our last night together.

If we hadn’t been spoiled enough already Esther got her first ride in a small boat, although at times it was questionable as to whether she was enjoying it. James spotted turtles and showed us some of the devastation from Cyclone Debbie with a few boats still stranded. On the way we picked up a bag of ice from a vending machine, to keep our catches cool, not sure if we have any of those in WA! Meanwhile, I think James luck was about to change with us on the boat! Nothing again!

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What else do you do with a camera case? Shoe?

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So sad to say goodbye, but all the better for the time spent together. Looking forward to our future adventures on Kangaroo Island, or when they come to visit us in Perth. Beautiful family, glad we’re related!

Townsville, Bowen & Conway Beach, QLD.

This is a short post so I thought I would delve into a bit of our style of travelling. Once we have packed up and are in the car we head in the direction we want to go and I look up places to stay on WikiCamps, read reviews and call ahead to check availability and pricing. If we are not committed to a particular location we just drive, then when Esther wakes up we might stop somewhere for lunch check it out and decide to stay or keep moving. This has been one of the enjoyable, adventurous things about our travels, getting in the car and not knowing where we will stay next.

We had a few things we needed to do in a big town so in this case we were already committed to Townsville. We left Perth with the new fancy and expensive Hema HX1 (thanks to an abundance of BCF vouchers for our birthdays and Christmas from family), which died on us after our 2nd town, Hema Support were helpful and we were able to collect another one in Tom Price. Unfortunately this one died when we were in Cape York, it wouldn’t charge. By this point we were looking for alternatives. In the end Dan chose a 7inch tablet where we uploaded the Hema maps app and iGo app, working just the same as the Hema but costing half the price (WAIT: There is more to this story than Felicia is willing to tell, after three nights researching bloggs and Satellite Navigation manufacturer websites, I decided a 7″ Samsung tablet with the right software would be more suitable, They have a long battery life, a great screen resolution, faster processing speeds, work with GPS and GLONASS, plus I would also have a tablet to use instead of borrowing Felicia’s. Apparently I was wrong in my assessment and had made a poor decision. Felicia felt very strongly against this solution and gave a number of very feeble reasons as to why… after seeing the error of my ways we bought a Garmin from Harvey Norman. The sales assistants assured us that we could install the Hema Maps…. Turns out they were wrong and we then exchanged it for the Samsung tablet and it has worked wonderfully ever since. Dan).

Townsville:

We attended a school fete with food trucks, went to some markets early the next morning and had our first spiral potatoes on a stick! We took Esther to the foreshore water playground in the afternoon where they also had another fair with food trucks and rides. Lots happening in Townsville!

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The view from our caravan of Mount Stewart.

Lunch stop @ Bowen:

The town seemed dead when we passed through but the coastline was stunning!

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Normally used for rinsing your feet, however also the perfect height for rinsing Esther

Conway Beach:

An unexpected detour led us first to a Nudist caravan park.. ha ha, no mention of this minor detail on wikicamps, it was only when I called after we couldn’t locate it and mentioned we had a 1 year old he said it wasn’t for children and it was a nudist camp!

So off to this caravan park: Conway Beach Caravan Park, so full of character, especially suited to families with children, (or the big kid in all of us). They had a train that did laps around the caravan park twice a day (for free), as well as a nice pool with a slide, toddler waterplay area, 2 sizes of jumping pillows and an American styled “diner”, but my favourite was the painted cabins and toilets, the yellow lighting didn’t do my photo justice but the colour was fantastic, a really bright friendly place to stay.

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View leaving the park.

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Next stop: Airlie Beach!

Atherton Tablelands to Mission Beach, QLD.

After the Daintree we headed South for Atherton, eager to go to a Saturday market, only to miss each one. Our timing was out and in one case by a week as the biggest and best market was advertised as the last Saturday of the month, it was only the 4th Saturday… with 5 that month 😦

When we traveled to Cairns from inland QLD, we drove through Atherton and were looking forward to returning and exploring. It was etched in our memory as a green oasis after our 6 months in the outback. When we returned it did not disappoint, lots of fresh produce and dairy’s.

Gallo’s Dairyland:

Malanda Falls:

We stayed at the caravan park in Malanda, they had a few farm animals including these turkeys! All puffed up chasing his lady!

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Hen & Mr Gobbler! Such a laugh to watch.

Tinaroo dam:

We bought a permit to fish here at Tinaroo Dam, nice afternoon, but that’s about it…

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Mungalli Dairy:

Oh my, oh my, oh my, this was breathtaking.

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I love being able to sit in our van and look out the window at such stunning vistas. It really is the reason to travel.

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Kurrimine Beach:

Kurrimine Beach is just north of Mission Beach, a very popular tourist destination. We decided to try Kurrimine instead and loved it. WikiCamps had some great reviews of the area and I think all of the 3 caravan parks were about 100m from the beach. We managed to collect more coconuts, give a de-husked coconut away, go fishing 3 times without success, meet more really nice people, a group from Melbourne who told us of their fishing adventures the day before out on a boat catching BIG fish, who then drove home and brought us a couple of kgs of it! We are so spoilt.

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Charley’s Chocolate Factory:

They run an excellent tour, most importantly friendly, with lots to see and the focus was on the chocolate. They are in a unique position to demonstrate the chocolate making process from tree to bean to bar. The farm is owned by a couple who moved from Melbourne and decided to start a cocoa tree farm on some land they’d bought.

During the tour, we were given a history of chocolate both ancient and modern, then we were taken to the nursery to see how their cocoa plants are grown from seed, there is a very narrow window that they have to import and plant, from memorey about 10 days! Then we were walked over to where the cocoa plants are grown and harvested. The way they trellis their trees to protect them against cyclone and produce a bigger yield is really amazing.

We then returned to the shed to hear, see and taste how the cocoa beans are extracted from the pod, fermented, roasted and made into bars. I actually missed a bit of it as an older lady fainted in the humidity and was lending a hand. The tour concluded with lunch and an opportunity to purchase some bars of ‘Australian Origin’ chocolate!

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Cacao tree green house.
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This my friends, is the beginning of what you know as chocolate! The flower before the fruit.

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Esther crawling over to the Cacao fruit! She knows a good thing when she sees it.
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One of a few Australian Cacao Plantations.

From here we hopped back in the car with the caravan in tow and headed further south to follow up some job opportunities for Dan.

Daintree, QLD.

Late September, 2017. The beautiful, beautiful Daintree.

I will reiterate how nice it was to be back in our van after our time in a tent. It was luxurious and Esther was excited to be reunited with some of her toys as well as get her new birthday toy train:

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We enjoyed showering again in our own shower, having air conditioning, our lavish kitchen, block out blinds and minimal unpacking and packing in order to sleep (throw some toys, books and clothes off the bed and off to sleep, as opposed to blowing or re-inflating the air mattress).

We stayed at the Daintree Caravan Park, friendly accommodating staff and the surrounds were lush, birds all through the tree canopies singing every morning, bandicoots and friendly ants that made a nest in the arm of our camp chair, overnight!

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View at the caravan park.
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Our set up. same old.
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Female & Male Australasian Figbird.

We headed back across the ferry to check out the Daintree National Park and also some of the tourist sites. We did a hike through the rainforest and paused for any loud noises to see if it was a Cassowary, but never to see one. The only Cassowary we saw was a statue of one prior to boarding the ferry, that and a million road signs warning of their supposed presence. I’m not sure they even exist, kind of like hoop snakes and drop bears or wild Koala’s as opposed to bred in captivity! We are now in the ACT and I still haven’t seen a Koala in the wild.

One of my favourite things was visiting the Daintree Icecream Co. With a self guided tour of their amazing orchard and only one choice to purchase a 4 flavour sample of their freshest ice-cream, I think ours was coconut, wattleseed, soursop and passionfruit, all from their orchard.

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This is a rather large Jackfruit @ the Daintree Icecream Co.

Sugar Cane fields everywhere and a well advertised chocolate tour of a cocoa plantation, which turned out to be more about sugar cane, to which I was very disappointed, I’ll say no more and just rave about the one we did further south that was excellent in the next blog.

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Juicing a sugar cane.
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Vanilla Bean vine.
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Cacao Tree
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Cacao fruit

Our beautiful child:

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The trip to the tip… Cape York, QLD.

Our route:

Daintree (via CREB Track) to Lakeland – Coen – Bamaga (Umagico 4 Nights) – South Side of Sam Creek (via Old Telegraph Track) – Elliot Falls Campground – Weipa – Chuulangun Campground – Hann Crossing (National Park) – Endeavour Falls Tourist Park – Daintree via Cooktown and the Bloomfield Track.

I had no idea that the Cape York trip was a thing, being from the West Coast. Turns out some people plan this adventure down to a T, years in advance. In true Dan & Felicia style we got ourselves a good map & guide in Cairns and asked lots of questions. Although our car was already set up for camping after our trip to Cape Leveque, we’d made a few improvements to our “rig” along the way, a solar panel on the roof with dual batteries to keep the Waeco going without draining the car battery, upgraded our 2 man tiny tent to a 6 man tent and purchased a super croc spotting rechargeable spotlight.

As we have been traveling around, I have been contacting people that we know when we arrive in the state, I contacted my cousin (not knowing where he lived in QLD) when we arrived in Cairns, James kindly invited us to visit him in Airlie Beach, but not for a few weeks as they were headed on a camping trip to Cape York the following week… the very same week we were headed up there, we couldn’t have organised this if we tried, (that and I hadn’t had contact with them since they had come to dinner at my parents home 9 years prior). So we organised to meet up along the way and what a fantastic reunion it was. We have created a family friendship and Esther won the hearts of both Micah and Jazzy.

We met a few people when we got to the Daintree (we were able to store our caravan here for a small fee while we were away, great caravan park and friendly staff) and they had just come back from the ‘Tip’ via the CREB track, this has to be the best source of information, people who have up to date knowledge of the track, reassuring us it was dry and more than manageable, they also shared a book with us that a lady who each year detailed the tracks and campsites of the Cape York Region had written, which was invaluable along the way.

Traveling with an almost one year old means we drive as long as she let’s us. Our plan was to get to the top as quickly as we could as I wanted to make it there to celebrate our anniversary and Esther’s first birthday, so we took the development road up. The road was currently being graded and so much of it was smooth, it was a much easier drive than we anticipated. Although there was one section, turning off before heading to Weipa where some unpredicted “whoops” caused the car to get some serious air!

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First Photo of the trip.
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Inspecting the track ;p

After a long day of driving we try to let Esther stretch her legs and “crawl around.” The caravan park we stayed at was quiet and without many people so she was able to roam around and get filthy. While we were setting up camp a couple of backpackers brought back some fresh watermelon from the farm. It was juicy, just ask Esther.

The happy photo’s stopped after this as we entered ‘Our hilariously memorable first night…’

  • It was windy and the tent literally picked up and blew a couple of meters away while we were trying to put it up
  • The pegs wouldn’t hammer into the ground, it was full of rocks, Dan managed to even bend heavy duty tent pegs.
  • We went to use the lantern and it was broken, likely from the bumps while 4WDing.
  • We were given a large plastic box from reception to bath Esther in that was broken, but Dan didn’t know, so when he went to bath Esther he saw it and thought it was something we had done and would need to replace.
  • We inflated our mattress, then when we put Esther to bed noticed it was flat. (Again likely having occurred from rubbing whilst being folded in the drawer of the car).  No one likes a hole in their mattress while camping 😦 Lucky I’m married to Macgyver (or someone who is determined not to sleep on the floor after a long days driving) Dan cut a piece of material from our jumper lead storage bag and super-glued it over the hole and it worked!
  • By this point… do you think we have a happy Dan?
  • Then we went to use a fan with a light and the battery was dead, likely having turned itself on whilst traveling and run flat.
  • The gas cooker kept blowing out in the wind.
  • Part of dinner fell on the floor (sauteed mushrooms).

I was in fits of laughter as by this point you laugh or cry!

Then in the morning…

  • The car wouldn’t start as we had drained the dying battery opening and shutting doors for hours.
  • and we found a hole in our new sink when we went to do the dishes.

 

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Check out the stark contrast, brown dusty trees on the left and green on the right.
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Ferry crossing at the Jardine River.
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Our beachside camp @ Umagico, Bamaga.
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Makeshift camp kitchen/laundry (too hot to have afternoon naps in the tent).
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Finally asleep…

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Fresh Coconuts!!!! Best Anniversary present! Hand picked!
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Seisia Beach
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The locals (Thursday Islanders) reassured us that on Fridays it’s safe to swim as the crocs don’t come here to the jetty.
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Fishing at the jetty…

Happy 1st Birthday Esther & Happy 4th Wedding Anniversary to us.

Celebrated at Punsand Bay, Cape York.

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Our beautiful birthday girl.

Visiting the most Northern Tip of Australia:

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Our Beach @ Umagico:

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This is a picture perfect location. Warm weather, beautiful beaches and beachside camping, but no swimming = torture. When we arrived we thought every exposed rock was a crocodile. But when we went out at night with our torches we had more than one sighting of two blinking red eyes staring back at us.

There were quite a few stray dogs around, one placid dog took quite a liking to us and became protective of Esther. Poor dog must have had litters and litters of pups and was pretty worn. She got the nick name “butter” after a new 500g block of butter went missing off the table and later discovered she’d eaten all of it! All of this was great until we discovered she was covered in ticks and fleas. We noticed one day when she got up from laying down and they were crawling all over the floor.

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DC3 Aircraft from WWII Ruins:

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The Old Telegraph Track:

As mentioned before we took the Development Road up to Cape York and decided to take the Old telegraph Track South entering via Mistake Creek. The creeks were so clear and beautiful, all worth swimming in, or bathing in for that matter. We camped overnight at Canal Creek, after watching a car towing a camper trailer reverse its way down around, through and across the creek!

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It was a bit drizzly which is never fun with a tent, but we managed to stay dry and capture these special moments…

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Early morning swim.

Eliot Falls:

When no one else is around you have to go in and check the depth yourself! (Scrubby Creek Crossing)

 

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Twin Falls:

There is a national park run campsite here which requires pre-booking and you are allocated sites. James & Liz were due to meet us here and they never arrived, with no reception we just hoped they were ok! We later found out they were camping at Canal Creek, not far. They had towed their camper trailer through the same tracks and crossings we had from Mistake creek! Including Scrubby creek, but I’ll let them tell that tale.

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From here we continued south on the OTT, bypassing Gunshot crossing, we were cruising to Bramwell Junction, starving, sick of the corrugations and with a tired hungry baby when we arrived at our last crossing (everyone else’s first) Palm Creek Crossing. A dry creek crossing with a steep decent, my nerves were on edge watching Dan descend.  Wheels in the air everywhere! The car seemed to rock like a matchbox toy. But he safely got our trusty rig down. (Unbeknown’s to us there was an alternate crossing).

Whilst I was helping guide Dan down from the bottom of the creek a gentleman was recording the saga. He had come in from the Junction to have a look at people tackling this crossing. (Which no one was, they were all going the “chicken track”). I must add though when we were leaving some people were looking at heading South-North on the track and crossing where we didn’t have success. Not sure what they did in the end. The thing is, the track changes day to day, depending on weather and on how many people cross it and make changes to the track, placing logs, rocks or how the car churns it up.

So then we had a look at our “out” our very last challenge on this track, standing between us and food and a rest and relief. Half way up the exit was a huge step up. 2 foot vertical step up of hard polished clay. This was most people’s entry, turns out it would have been easier to follow the typical South-North and returned on the development road.

So said gentleman advised us that most people seem to take the alternate route. “WHAT ALTERNATE ROUTE??? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US BEFORE WE GOT OUR CAR STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CROSSING???”

In the end a kind soul winched us out the way we came in and we took the alternate crossing and drove into Bramwell junction. Got fuel, icecream, chips and drove our hearts out to Weipa where we left the tent in the car and stayed in a Donga (2 single beds!!) for the night. Best $70 we’ve ever spent.

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Weipa:

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Weipa @ Sunset
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Our Family Set up. Right next to the bins!!
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Catching up with a beautiful family we met at Cape Leveque 4 months earlier.

Chuulangan Aboriginal Corporation Campground:

This was a gem of a find. We were the only one’s there. A friendly ranger gave us some tips for catching cherabin. Also how to use the donkey water heater for hot showers. It was such a nice spot. With a safe place for the kids to wade in the water.

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Trying to find some gold…
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Lunch stop at the dried up Wenlock River crossing.

Camping at Hann River:

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Banks of the Hann River

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Bushman Dan teaching the kids how to make spears:

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100 Year old Mango Trees- filled with mango’s if you look closely.

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Isabella Falls Ford:

Endeavour Falls Caravan Park:

Cooktown:

The colour of the sand and the water are as you see it, blue as blue. Hot golden sand. Warm sun, everything you need to go swimming… but there’s crocs. *sigh*.

We stopped into Cooktown for lunch and a battery for the car. We said goodbye to our new found friends until Airlie Beach and I got my turn 4WD’ing as we returned to the Daintree on the Bloomfield track. I expected it to be a little more challenging, but a lot of the track was sealed, including the really steep parts, which you would struggle to tow anything up. You realise after the drive how much you were concentrating when your upper body is sore from holding tight to the steering wheel.  Driving through thick forest we had views of the stunning coast line with the occasional break in the trees.

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Cape Tribulation:

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A short stop at Cape Tribulation before taking the ferry across the Daintree River home to our caravan. Oh so nice to be in our bed after our time away.

 

Cairns, QLD

2nd September 2017

Driving from Undarra to Cairns the scenery changed dramatically, it took us through the Atherton Tablelands and after 5 months in the outback we were mesmerized by the green, so much so I took this photo, which may not be much to you, but to us it was so lush to look at, fields of green.

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All I see is green, green, green..  the only red dirt is on our car.

We stopped off at a Strawberry Farm, with the most delicious fresh strawberries and strawberry gelato! Just ask Esther, this was heaven and the freshest strawberries we’d had in months.

 

Great Barrier Reef:

This was definitely a bucket list item, to snorkel the barrier reef, the weather was good, so we did it! The boat took us out to a pontoon where there was a semi-submersible boat which Esther loved as well as an underwater viewing platform and small child friendly swimming area. Dan and I tag teamed and it was so relaxing floating over the coral, seeing all the fish and just being in the water.

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Family photo.
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A moment!
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My bearded Dan.
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Esther watching the fish in the “underwater world”.

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So cool to see a turtle this big in the wild.

Kuranda, The village in the Rainforest:

A must do when in Cairns, take the gondola from Cairns up to Kuranda. As you’ll see below it takes you high above the trees with amazing views. The sound of birds and insects echos loudly, we looked hard to find snakes up in the trees but no luck.

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One of the most Ancient Pines: The Kauri Pine.
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This is one of my favourite photos.. of me! ha ha I did my hair and even wore makeup that day!
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Barron Falls

Catching up with family:

Haven’t seen each other in years. Was lovely to reunite and spend time together!

 

Undarra Lava Caves, QLD

After leaving Karumba we headed back South then East towards Cairns, stopping at a small town called Croydon, here we found Esther’s high chair covered in ants in the back of the caravan, now spreading across the floor and up the wall… whoops, need to triple check it next time before we pack it in. A lovely park with lush grass, shade and lots of roo poo, which Esther thought she should taste test…

Next stop Mount Surprise, here we stayed at a small “caravan park” called Planet Earth Adventures for a total of $12/night (unpowered) with hot showers and clean toilets. The park owner who is also a snake handler brings around a huge black headed python and discusses safety and first aid with the kids, along with a chance to hold him. We really wanted to take a photo of Esther with the Python to scare the grandmas, but she was wiggly and more interested in the camp fire behind us so we left.

At this stage in our trip Esther was learning to climb stairs, we have two going into the caravan. Daniel happened to be 20m away foraging for wild cherry tomatoes and Esther was playing on the stairs, I was in and out of the caravan, shutting the fly screen behind me to keep the fly’s out all while trying to keep an eye on Esther. She was playing on the grass next to the van (she couldn’t move far at this stage), then lifting herself up standing by the step, then she would get up onto the step, but she would perch on the edge of the step, that’s when we would normally help her back down.

So there she was sitting on the step proud she got herself up there, without any idea how to get down, if I called out to Daniel it would startle her and she might fall off, if I opened the door I’d knock her off. So I just watched… as she tumbled off. Lucky kids are so resilient!

The next day we had a tour booked at the Undarra Lava Caves, we’ve always been so proud of how well behaved Esther is, until today. There were stairs, lots of stairs and all Esther wanted to do was climb up and down them by herself! Including when we were no where near the stairs she wanted to get down and would become quite vocal about it if she wasn’t put on the ground. The guide was sick of us by the time the tour was over, the granny’s thought Esther was cute, but the guide… he didn’t like having someone compete for his attention! That and I dropped my hat, my sunnies and my torch all at separate times. Worst behaved tour participants ever!

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How the Lava caves were formed:
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Awkward photo.

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We thought we’d found a boab tree in QLD, not so it’s a bottle tree apparently and not even related!

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